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Panel Hears Pitches on Toyota Lawsuit Venue

A panel of judges that must decide where litigation against Toyota Motor Corp. will be heard listened to arguments Thursday in San Diego pushing 19 venues.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation is expected to issue a plan in two to six weeks on consolidating the 100 lawsuits filed so far and others likely to be filed, The Wall Street Journal reported. Toyota hopes the panel will decide on California, where it has its U.S. headquarters.

More than 100 lawyers converged on San Diego for a conference Wednesday on litigation over Toyota's sudden-acceleration problems and Thursday's hearing. The choice of venue is critical to them because lawyers based in or near where the cases are heard are more likely to lead the litigation.

The panel has a lot of latitude in its decision. Factors likely to be considered include whether the judges who would hear the cases have experience with complicated litigation, how crowded court dockets are in given cities and whether witnesses can get to a location easily.

"It will come down to who's the best judge for the job," said a New York lawyer involved in the litigation.

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