In what can only be described as a shocking twist, lawyers in the Hot Coffee class action lawsuit have requested an obscenely inflated fee for their services.
A report on Overlawyered.com revealed that the suit resulted in 2676 claimants who were awarded various levels of damages, up to a maximum of $35.00. The bulk of the class, 2050 claimants, were awarded $5.00, while a small number were awarded replacement game disks with the Hot Coffee code removed. In all, the total cash value of the settlement reached a maximum of $26,505, although the report indicates the actual amount will likely be less. The seven "representative" members of the suit are seeking a further $24,500.
The lawyers involved, meanwhile, have claimed their services in the suit are valued at slightly over $1.3 million, but in a move reflecting the generosity and selflessness typical of the legal industry, have discounted their total fees request to a flat $1 million. Attorneys claim the amount, which represents 3774 percent of the settlement, is justified by the inclusion of expenses such as administration and disk replacement to the settlement amount, as well as an $870,000 cy pres award made to the National PTA and the ESRB, which they claim boosts the actual settlement amount to over $2 million.
Take-Two announced it had settled all outstanding class action suits resulting from the Hot Coffee controversy in November 2007, agreeing to provide replacement disks and/or cash settlements of up to $35 to anyone willing to swear they would not have purchased the game had they known about the inclusion of the Hot Coffee code. At the time, Take-Two had set aside a cash reserve to cover the cost of the settlement, which the company estimated could reach a maximum of $2.75 million plus legal fees.