According to a recent report by the National Law Journal, U.S. District Judge Manuel Real significantly reduced a fee request made by the lawyers in the Prius headlight lawsuit.
Judge Real approved the class-action settlement worth approximately $3.8 million. However, he refused to grant the $4.7 million fee request, calling it “highly unreasonable.” Finding that the case contained “narrow, not complex” legal work, he reduced the fees to $766,000. Judge Real stated that there was no reason for five firms to be involved in the case, especially since three of the firms “had very little to do with the litigation.” He also found that the billing records were “most difficult, if not impossible, to decipher.”
Michael Mallow, Toyota’s attorney, was also concerned with the number of law firms involved. He described the fee request as “grossly excessive” and stated that their billings records were “inherently unreliable by bloated timekeeping, unnecessary work, and contradictory statements.”
Girard Gibbs, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, was awarded 65% of the fees. The firm must allocate the remaining fees to the other firms. Eric Gibbs, a partner at the firm, was pleased the settlement was approved, stating that his firm “worked hard to get the settlement benefit for the class. As for the fee award, we’ll need to sit down and weigh the court’s comments against the record that that court has before it, and use that preface to evaluate what our next steps ought to be.”