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GOP Lawmakers Trying to Cap Attorneys' Fees in Camp Lejeune Toxic Water Cases

GOP members of the House and Senate have introduced bills that would limit filing fees to 2% and contingency fees -- a portion paid to lawyers who successfully win a suit -- to 10%.

Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, who sponsored the Senate bill, said some attorneys reportedly are charging up to 60% for contingency fees.

Introducing the House version of the bill on Tuesday, Illinois Rep. Mike Bost, who serves as the ranking Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said veterans should not have to "endure high legal fees in order to have their day in court."

Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, promised to work with lawmakers on legislation but said he opposed the caps, given the complexities of the cases. Durbin, a former trial attorney, noted that in most workers' compensation cases or disability claims, attorneys’ fees run about one-third of the award, and for those that don't require proving causation, about 20%. Many who file suit will have to prove their illnesses or injury were caused by the water, Durbin noted. "At what point do you want to do that alone in a courtroom? I wouldn't want to do that without help," Durbin said Nov. 30 on the Senate floor. "You aren't going to get a competent attorney to represent Marines at 2%."

The American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars issued statements last month saying they support "reasonable fees" for the claims. – December 7, 2022 by Patricia Kime

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