NORTHVILLE, Mich., March 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch (MiLAW) today blasted the request by personal injury lawyers in the Flint Water litigation to be paid as much as $202.8 million. “In our opinion, this is a grossly excessive money grab that would leave the victims in Flint with tens of millions of dollars less than they deserve from the legal settlement,” said MiLAW president, Robert Dorigo Jones.
“We call on Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel who negotiated the settlement to oppose this appalling overcharge. There is no reason the lawyers should reap a lottery-sized windfall that we believe sets a new record for legal fees in Michigan when the average child is expected to receive less than $20,000.”
“Everyone is entitled to fair payment for their services, and this was certainly a complex case,” continued Dorigo Jones, “but, in our opinion, it’s inexcusable for these lawyers to ask for nearly a third of the money in a settlement this large regardless of what may be customary or allowed by court rules. It’s not just inexcusable, we believe it’s shameful, and the Attorney General should formally oppose this fee request.”
While lawyers might receive one-third of the money they win under a contingency fee agreement, class action settlements resolve the rights of people who never had a chance to negotiate fees with their court-appointed attorneys. In large settlements of hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of class members, fee awards over 25% often result in fees far above market rates, as shown by this settlement. Class members who are filing claims can object to excessive fees, and such objectors sometimes win more money for the class by reducing fees to 20%, 15% or even lower. The larger a settlement is, the greater the justification is for a lower fee to avoid disproportionate windfalls to attorneys.
“Every 1% reduction in the lawyers’ ‘contingency’ fee would provide the 26,000 Flint children exposed to lead another visit to the pediatrician,” said Dorigo Jones. “The people of Michigan can urge Attorney General Nessel to oppose this fee request by signing an online petition created by MiLAW at MoreForFlint.com.”
Residents of Flint who want to file a legal challenge to the fee request can also contact MiLAW at [email protected]. “Several residents of Flint have contacted our office to express their frustration with the shocking amount of money the lawyers are asking for,” added Dorigo Jones. “So, in addition to the online petition we are conducting, we are collecting names of members of the class action lawsuit who want to file a formal legal objection to the fees. We hope to find skilled pro bono legal representation to protect the citizens of Flint from what we consider a selfish money grab. According to empirical studies, the typical fee award in a settlement this size is below 17% which would provide the people of Flint with tens of millions of dollars more.”
Lawsuit abuse takes many forms. There are frivolous lawsuits, of course, but another form is when lawyers use the legal system to enrich themselves by charging their own clients what we believe are excessive fees. MiLAW is dedicated to eliminating every form of lawsuit abuse and is standing up for all victims.
About MiLAW: Based in Northville, Michigan, Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch is a non-partisan consumer watchdog organization working to increase public awareness of all the ways consumers, job providers, educators, health care providers, first responders, charities and communities are burdened by the damaging effects of runaway litigation. For more information about MiLAW, contact Bob Dorigo Jones, president, MiLAW, 734-891-6022, [email protected].
SOURCE Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch