Vioxx settlement judge caps legal fees at 32 percent
According to the Associated Press, the federal judge overseeing much of the massive litigation over withdrawn painkiller Vioxx capped fees for plaintiffs'' attorneys at a relatively low 32 percent of the $4.85 billion settlement, saying he had to ensure fees were reasonable. U.S. District Judge Elden Fallon wrote in an order that while the limit is below the usual 33.3 percent to 40 percent that lawyers collect when they take cases on a contingency, it won''t result in a paltry award for the lawyers. The judge gave several reasons for the limit, noting the global settlement reached last November streamlined the work of the participating attorneys. He wrote that he had an increased responsibility to keep fees reasonable because most of the claimants are elderly and frail after having suffered life-threatening injuries, or they are survivors of people who died of a heart attack or stroke so they may not have been able to negotiate the most favorable contracts with attorneys. Fallon, whose court is in New Orleans, also ruled the hundreds of attorneys representing about 50,000 Vioxx claimants participating in the settlement can recover reasonable costs. Altogether, 871 law firms are involved in the litigation.