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Four Attorneys Appointed to Lead Counsel Concerning Toyota

U.S. District Judge James Selna appointed four attorneys to be lead counsel for two committees that deal primarily with the biggest issues facing Toyota — wrongful death claims, and claims filed by those who believe their cars have lost value because the Japanese automaker has recalled about 8 million vehicles.

Typically, in class actions like this one, multiple heavy hitter lawyers from different firms will file lawsuits in in different jurisdictions to jockey for position as lead class counsel, or as in cases this large, to be appointed to the plaintiffs’ steering committee.  This is the group of attorneys that make decisions about how the litigation will proceed and will act as a liason btween the court and the hundreds of other lawyers that have filed these suits.

The group of lawyers lobbying for lead spots was much larger than in most class actions, and the resulting steering committee is much larger as well.  Accordgin to law.com, “Nearly 70 plaintiffs’ attorneys spent Thursday in Selna’s Santa Ana, Calif., courtroom attempting to convince him that there should be more members on the committees in charge of the litigation. Each argued for a leadership role in the MDL.”

Judge Selna has selected several of the nation’s most prominent class action lawyers to head up the litigation, including Steve Berman of Seattle who had taken on big tobacco and major securities class actions; Elizabeth Cabraser of San Francisco who has worked on lawsuits against the tobacco industry and the makers of silicone gel breast implants; Lewis “Mike” S. Eidson, a partner at Colson Hicks Eidson in Coral Gables, Fla.; Mark Lanier of The Lanier Law Firm in Houston; Richard D. McCune, a partner at McCuneWright in Redlands, Calif.; W. Daniel “Dee” Miles, a shareholder at Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles in Montgomery, Ala.; Brian Panish, a partner at Panish, Shea & Boyle in Los Angeles; Hunter Shkolnik, a partner at Rheingold, Valet, Rheingold, Shkolnik & McCartney in New York; and Donald H. Slavik, a partner at Milwaukee’s Habush Habush & Rottier.

The will be a heavyweight battle on all fronts and it will be interesting legal drama for sure.


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