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CHARLESTON – C&O Motors will pay more than $350,000 to settle customer Darryl Smith's class action suit, with the lion's share of the cash going to Smith's attorneys.

In a Jan. 11 settlement, C&O Motors agreed to pay $600 each to Smith and 87 other customers who bought Daewoo autos in 2002. That works out to $52,800.

C&O also promised an additional payment to Smith in a confidential amount.

The settlement provides $266,421 in fees for Bell & Bands of Charleston, plus $36,329 to reimburse the firm's costs.

Smith sued C&O Motors in 2002, claiming the dealer sold Daewoo vehicles without disclosing that Daewoo, a Korean automaker, would soon go bankrupt.

Smith moved to represent all Daewoo buyers at C&O Motors in a class action under the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. His complaint estimated that thousands of Daewoo buyers belonged to the class.

Records at C&O Motors yielded a much smaller number – 88.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib certified Smith to represent the class.

Zakaib planned to hold trial this month, but the settlement cancelled the trial.

Harry Bell signed the settlement for Smith. Mark Swartz of Charleston signed for C&O Motors.

In the settlement, C&O Motors denied all allegations in Smith's complaint and disputed any liability to him or the class.

C&O Motors denied that class certification was proper.

Bell & Bands agreed not to advertise, announce or discuss the settlement.

Bell & Bands sent out notices to class members before filing the settlement at the courthouse. Notices set a Jan. 10 deadline for "opting out" of the settlement.

As of Jan. 16, the case docket showed no class members opting out.

Zakaib plans a fairness hearing Jan. 29.

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