Lawyers in Volkswagen case seek up to $332.5 million in fees, costs

(Reuters) - Lawyers for Volkswagen AG VOWG_p.DE vehicle owners will seek up to $332.5 million in fees and costs for their work in a $10 billion settlement over claims the automaker used software to cheat on emissions testing, according to a court filing.

Emblems of VW Golf VII car are pictured in a production line at the plant of German carmaker Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo - RTSKOGI

The filing late Wednesday in a federal court in California said Volkswagen and the plaintiffs’ lawyers have not yet agreed on how much the attorneys will be paid. Volkswagen has agreed to pay reasonable costs and fees in connection with the settlement announced in June, which covers vehicles with 2.0-liter engines.

In the filing, the lawyers said they will request no more than $324 million in fees and up to $8.5 million to cover other costs for a total of $332.5 million. Lead lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser said the amount was far less than the “judicially established benchmark” for class actions of approximately 25 percent of the settlement amount.

“But this is not an ordinary case, this is not an ordinary settlement, and this will not be an ordinary fee request,” the filing said.

She said that various reports had speculated that lawyers’ fees could be as high as $3.5 billion.

A final request will require approval from the judge overseeing the litigation. Fees will be paid separately by Volkswagen, and not deducted from the settlement fund, according to court filings.

Volkswagen spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan said the automaker will pay attorneys’ fees that “reasonably reflect” the work of the lead plaintiffs’ lawyers in connection with the settlement, adding the decision ultimately rests with the judge.

Those lawyers said affected owners and lessees have given “overwhelmingly positive feedback” about the deal.

A hearing on final approval of the settlement is set for Oct. 18.

The settlement stems from litigation against the German automaker after it admitted last year it intentionally misled regulators by installing secret software that allowed U.S. vehicles to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution.

Under the deal, which received preliminary approval last month, owners of up to 475,000 vehicles will be eligible for buybacks, lease termination and other compensation.

Volkswagen will also will pay $4.7 billion for environmental remediation and promoting emission-free vehicle technology.

The deal does not cover similar unresolved claims over approximately 85,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter engines.

Volkswagen $14.7 billion settlement cleared another legal hurdle last month after a federal judge gave the automaker preliminary approval to buy back up to 475,000 vehicles.

Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington, D.C.; Editing by David Gregorio and Jeffrey Benkoe