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CHICAGO � After RC2 Corp., the maker of Thomas the Train toys that contained toxic lead paint, reached a settlement last month with parents who sued the company over its products, plaintiffs’ lawyers in another suit reopened the battle over the adequacy of the settlement. The settlement in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago led attorneys representing parents in a separate federal lawsuit to decry the pact as providing too little compensation for plaintiffs. Attorneys from Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, the lead firm for plaintiffs in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, are seeking to block the state court settlement. At the same time, lawyers led by KamberEdelson, which negotiated the agreement, are striking back in federal court. At stake is $2.9 million in attorney fees. RC2 said on Jan. 22 that the settlement would resolve all claims nationwide related to recalls of the toys that took place from June to September 2007, and would cost the company between $3.5 million and $4.5 million for toy replacement costs or refunds, claims administration and legal fees, among other things. The Cook County court gave preliminary approval to the pact that day. Attorneys in the federal case might not get a cut of the fees if the state settlement stands because it would make the federal case moot. A day after the state court approval, Seattle-based Hagens Berman issued a press release saying that the settlement didn’t compensate for exposure to the toys or blood tests that some children may have needed as a result of exposure to the toxic substance. The two sides are in dispute over whether the settlement provides full refunds for all of the plaintiffs or compensation for the blood tests. “These attorneys are taking a very aggressive stance,” said Jay Edelson, a Chicago lawyer at KamberEdelson who represented plaintiffs in state court. “Right after the settlement was issued, they put out a press release that misrepresented the settlement significantly.” Elizabeth Fegan, a Hagens Berman partner in suburban Chicago, asked the federal court to stop the settlement and asked to intervene in the state court proceedings. She declined to comment on the settlement. Lawsuits from state courts in Illinois, California and Tennessee, among others, were consolidated in Cook County while cases from Illinois, Arkansas and New York, among others, were consolidated in federal court in Chicago. The lawsuits revolve around the same complaint: Children who may have ingested lead from the toys were at risk and should be compensated for the exposure and recalls of the toys. The settlement would allow parents to pursue separate lawsuits over injuries. Other plaintiffs’ attorneys involved in the federal suit include attorney Ben Barnow of Barnow and Associates in Chicago; Joseph Whatley Jr. of Whatley, Drake & Kallas in Birmingham, Ala.; and Frederic Fox of Kaplan, Fox & Kilsheimer in New York. Some federal plaintiffs’ attorneys, including Barnow, have not signed on to the motions to block the settlement at this point. “The litigation has many good lawyers and I’m reviewing the activity to date,” he said. Attorneys from the two camps may meet to discuss the situation this week after U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber urged them to try to resolve the matter, Edelson said. Bart Murphy, an attorney in Indianapolis-based Ice Miller’s Lisle, Ill., office who is representing RC2, declined to comment. RC2 spokeswoman Sarah Meltzer declined to comment on the dispute.

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