Texas-Size Lawyers' Fees Rankle in State Tobacco Suit

By Scott Baldauf, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, April 13, 1998 | Go to article overview

Texas-Size Lawyers' Fees Rankle in State Tobacco Suit


Scott Baldauf, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Two years ago, when Texas Attorney General Dan Morales hired a posse of lawyers to fight the tobacco industry, few balked about his payment plan: 15 percent of the cut if they won, nothing if they lost.

Then in January, the industry agreed to pay Texas $15.3 billion. It was the largest court settlement in US history.

Now, about that 15 percent. It adds up to $2.3 billion. Some Texans, including Gov. George W. Bush (R), think that figure is excessive, and they worry that the fees will significantly erode taxpayers' windfall and whittle at their right to decide how it is spent. Others say Texas wouldn't be having this debate if Mr. Morales's lawyers hadn't won the settlement in the first place, at their own financial risk. But beyond the parochial politics of Texas is a larger question of legal ethics - one that is certain to crop up in the dozens of states that plan to take the tobacco industry to court. What is an appropriate fee for lawyers who invest their time and, in some cases, millions of dollars to prepare state lawsuits? "If you think that the market system works, then you can let people bid for the services that they want," says Jeffrey Harris, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. Alternative schemes, such as arbitration or pay-by-the-hour, may be attractive now that states seem to have a chance of beating beleaguered Big Tobacco, "but they don't reward lawyers according to the risk they incur." To be sure, a lawyer's investment of time and money can be costly. In Texas, the state's private lawyers spent a reported $40 million gathering evidence and expert testimony. If they had lost, the money would be lost too. "You have to remember, at the time these cases were filed, the tobacco industry hadn't lost a case, and they're still doing pretty well," says Gregory Joseph, chairman of the litigation section of the American Bar Association. "The amounts of money we're talking about are staggering, but it's up to the judge to decide what's reasonable." Judge calls fees 'reasonable' In the case of the Texas settlement, federal Judge David Folsom has already ruled that the 15 percent fee was reasonable. (In personal-injury cases, for instance, contingency fees are much higher, often 33 percent.) But Governor Bush and a group of legal experts acting on his behalf are asking the judge to reconsider his decision.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Texas-Size Lawyers' Fees Rankle in State Tobacco Suit
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.