Roughly 200,000 plaintiffs will split $73 million in compensation for damages from the 2014 Elk River chemical spill. Roughly 20 law firms will split nearly a third as much in attorneys’ fees.
That’s $22 million in attorneys’ fees. Seems like a lot to us, but that’s because we’re uninformed and don’t realize how much things cost or appreciate the true value of attorneys.
Maybe an attorney could explain it to us. Let’s ask one.
“Those fees represent over four years of work of over 22 law firms,” says Charleston attorney Anthony Majestro. “As of February 2017, the lawyers had put in over $20 million in time. In addition, the lawyers personally expended $2.5 million in litigation expenses. The lawyers working on the case represented the class in state court, federal court, federal bankruptcy court, and before the West Virginia Public Service Commission.”
We had no idea. Those attorneys put in a lot of time, assuming that $20 million in lawyer time is a lot of time. But wait, there’s more.
“Until this July, [the law firms] had not been paid anything,” Majestro emphasizes. “Keep in mind that the defendants vigorously denied liability. There were 93 depositions taken in 10 states, two million pages of documents reviewed and 60 major motions. This was not a suit where the case was filed and immediately settled. Class counsel continue to devote significant time to seeing that the settlement is administered correctly.”
Well, they earned their keep, didn’t they? And who can doubt their commitment to seeing that “the settlement is administered correctly”?
“In the end, the governments, businesses, and residents are receiving $73.6 million dollars,” Majestro concludes. “Another $30 million plus (after fees) is likely to be paid from the contingent fund. Most of this money will be returned to the economy, further helping the individuals and businesses who suffered from the spill four years ago.”
Wow! They did it all for us.