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Lawyers suing Fiat Chrysler in diesel case seek over $100 million

Lawyers suing Fiat Chrysler in diesel case seek over $100 million
FILE PHOTO: The Fiat logo is seen on the steering wheel of a Fiat "Freemont" model in a mechanic's workshop in Rome, Italy May 23, 2016. REUTERS/Max Rossi   -   Copyright  Max Rossi(Reuters)
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Lawyers for Fiat Chrysler <FCHA.MI> diesel owners have asked a U.S. judge to approve up to $106.5 million (81.81 million pounds) in legal fees and out-of-pocket costs for a settlement over excess vehicle emissions.

The attorneys said in a filing late Tuesday they had reviewed more than 4 million pages of documents and were involved in almost 100 depositions as they seek up to $99.5 million in legal fees and $7 million in costs.

The Italian-American automaker on Jan. 10 announced it settled civil claims with the U.S. Justice Department, the state of California and diesel owners that it used illegal software that produced false results on diesel-emissions tests.

Fiat Chrysler estimated the value of the settlements at about $800 million, a figure that could potentially rise to more than $900 million with the legal fees. A court hearing on the settlement is scheduled for later on Wednesday in San Francisco.

The settlement includes $311 million in total civil penalties to U.S. and California regulators, up to $280 million to resolve claims from diesel owners, and extended warranties worth $105 million.

German auto supplier Robert Bosch GmbH [ROBG.UL], which provided the emissions control software for the Fiat Chrysler vehicles, also agreed to pay $27.5 million to resolve claims from diesel owners.

Under the settlement, the $307.5 million from Fiat Chrysler and Bosch will give owners an average of $2,800 to get diesel software updates.

The settlement covers 104,000 Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee diesels from the model years 2014 to 2016, said the U.S. Justice Department, which is also conducting a criminal probe.

The settlement also includes $72.5 million for state civil penalties, and $33.5 million in payments to California to offset excess emissions and consumer claims.

The hefty penalty was the latest fallout from the U.S. government’s stepped-up enforcement of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen AG <VOWG_p.DE> admitted in September 2015 to intentionally evading emissions rules. Fiat Chrysler will be required to work with vendors of aftermarket catalytic converters to improve the efficiency of 200,000 converters in the 47 states that do not already require the use of the California-mandated high efficiency gasoline vehicle catalysts. Justice Department officials have estimated that effort will cost $50 million to $70 million.

Regulators said Fiat Chrysler used “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests in real-world driving, Fiat Chrysler did not admit liability.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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