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Judge Cuts $3M from $32M Fee Request in $110M Fiat Settlement

September 5, 2019 | Posted in : Class Action, Contingency Fees / POF, Expenses / Costs, Fee Award, Fee Award Factors, Fee Reduction / Fee Denial, Fee Request

A recent Law 360 story by Pete Brush, “Class Counsel Takes $3M Haircut as $110M Fiat Deal Gets OK,” reports that a Manhattan federal judge approved a $110 million settlement for Fiat Chrysler investors who sued when the automaker's alleged lies about emissions practices came to light, but he lopped about $3 million from a $32.2 million fee request made by lawyers who brought the class action.  U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman, who oversaw the four-year litigation that settled in April, called the recovery for investors "fair, reasonable and adequate," but administered a something of a haircut for plaintiffs' firms representing aggrieved investors in the $27.5 billion automaker.

"Fees in the range requested are less reasonable in a settlement of this magnitude," Judge Furman said, cutting Pomerantz LLP and The Rosen Law Firm PA's requested 30% fee back to 27% and arriving at an award just a hair under $29 million.  "Make no mistake about it, the attorneys in this case will receive a substantial fee.  Counsel has secured a substantial recovery for the class," the judge said.

The settlement proceeds go to investors who bought Fiat Chrysler stock between October 2014 and May 2017.  They claimed the automaker's 2014 filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said it was "substantially in compliance" with emissions and other safety regulations, were fraudulent.  Beginning in July 2015, according to the investors, Fiat Chrysler's share price began to drop when the misleading statements came to light.  The alleged misconduct cost the automaker $175 million in regulatory fines and subjected it to an expensive recall, according to filings.

Three lead plaintiffs, Timothy Kidd, Gary Koopman, Victor Pirnik, will each receive a $15,000 award on top of their settlement recovery, Judge Furman said.  He also approved roughly $2.6 million in costs for the plaintiffs' firms.  "We're very pleased at the order approving this excellent settlement," plaintiffs' counsel Jeremy Lieberman said after the hearing.  "We look forward to promptly distributing these proceeds to the class."