Lawyers bid to lead US court case against Toyota

Image caption, The court case could cost Toyota billions of dollars

About 60 lawyers are trying to persuade a judge in California that they should play a leading role in a giant court case against Toyota.

The case will involve more than 320 US lawsuits that have been filed against the carmaker in relation to its mass recall programmes earlier this year.

It comes after it was decided that all the federal lawsuits would be heard by Californian Federal Judge James Selna.

If Toyota decides to settle all the cases, it could cost it $3bn (£2bn).

The Japanese firm has had to recall more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world because of three main problems - sticking accelerator pedals, accelerator pedals getting stuck in floor mats and braking problems.

Some of the lawsuits before Judge Selna are seeking compensation for injury and death caused by sudden acceleration, while other car owners are demanding compensation for the reduced value of their vehicle.

He said he would be picking lawyers to lead investigations into three separate areas - personal injury, economic loss and research into what caused the Toyota faults.

According to the BBC's Peter Bowes, lawyers have been trying to persuade the judge of their qualifications to play a leading role.

"Some pointed to their ability to speak Japanese and one said he was a licensed engineer," he said.

Judge Selna had previously explained that "technical savvy" was a qualification for one of the lead positions on the legal team.

He has also said the trial is "daunting" but "doable".

Judge Selna is expected to start to announce which lawyers he has picked next week.