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I am going to be the lead plaintiff in a large class-action lawsuit. My attorneys will get one third of the

Elmhurst, NY |

verdict amount. I have incurred far more monetary damage than any of them, and without me, there would be no case. I have also helped immensely putting this case together. I know the judge has tremendous leeway when it comes to me getting an award. Can anyone tell me how much would be "fair" under these circumstances; 5 percent of the verdict amount, 10 percent..? Are there any actual cases like this that attorneys here know about?

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Attorney answers 4

Posted

Judge will regulate the legal fee, not necessarily one third. As class representative the judge will decide what you get. Consult with your attorney to discuss the matter. You are unlikely to get a percentage of the award, it depends on your damages and efforts.

If this answer is helpful, then please mark the helpful button. If this is the best answer, then please indicate it. Thanks. For further information you should see an attorney and discuss the matter completely. If you are in the New York City area, then you can reach me during normal business hours at 718 329 9500 or www.mynewyorkcitylawyer.com.

Posted

Your benefit should come primarily in the recovery secured for each class member. You are not, nor should you be, a partner with your attorney in his or her fees. You absolutely cannot get a percentage of the verdict amount. Judges do have discretion to award "incentive payments" to encourage assistance and cooperation by class representatives, but these are not windfalls, they are intended to compensate class representatives for the time involved in assisting the class. It is not unusual for a court to award an incentive payment of $5,000, and in extraordinary cases, an award up to $35,000 may occur. The amount will be determined by factors such as the amount of time incurred and the extent to which your involvement was necessary to move the case forward. Some expenses can be reimbursed also. If you took on this role expecting to get a percentage of the recovery, you were misled. That is neither proper nor ethical.

Asker

Posted

When you state "$35,000", what size settlement did you have in mind, and is this in state or federal court?

Don Springmeyer

Don Springmeyer

Posted

In our neck of the woods this is known as a "private attorney general incentive" and it's an additional sum of money the judge, in his complete discretion, can award to the class representatives for stepping up to be class rep. It can be in either state or federal court. The amount of such an award, if any, will tend toward the higher end of that range if the settlement is larger and the reps have had to go to more personal trouble, and toward the smaller end if the settlement is smaller and/or the reps did little.

Asker

Posted

Proper? Ethical? Oh, it's proper for an attorney to get 1/3 in a class-action suit, while the plaintiffs get peanuts? The other plaintiffs in this case had plenty of opportunities to galvanize and do something. Federal whistleblowers can get 10-30 percent of a recovery. They are entitled to this because they reported wrongdoing, just as I did here, albeit, not federal.

Eric Lechtzin

Eric Lechtzin

Posted

If it is a federal class action, the court has enormous discretion over the fee awarded, and fees to class counsel rarely are as high as a third of the recovery. Typically, if fees are awarded on a percentage of the recovery basis, the fee is less than 30% of the recovery. Compare that to personal injury lawyers who typically get 33.3% to 40% of the recovery. Also, rest assured that the court will ensure that your lawyers earned their fee. Courts use many factors to determine the amount of fees awarded to class counsel, including the amount, difficulty and complexity of the work performed by the lawyers, as well as the risk they took on by accepting the case on a contingent fee basis. Class action attorneys often spend thousands of hours working on these cases, for periods of years, with no compensation unless and until they secure a recovery for the class that obtains court approval. Would you work for years for someone else without being paid, and with no guarantee of ever being paid? Finally, even the strongest class action cases require highly specialized skills and knowledge to litigate to a conclusion. Do you posses the skills and knowledge to handle this case? If you did, then I suspect you would have handled the case yourself rather than hire qualified counsel.

Asker

Posted

I am not begrudging attorneys receiving just compensation for their time and efforts. I just took umbrage to " Harvard Law" making aspersions as to MY integrity. This is a classic Robin Hood saga, but at the corporate level. As an employee, my input is absolutely essential for this case to succeed, and I should be justly compensated. While all the other class members were just "flapping their gums", I took the "bull by the horns."

David H. Fink

David H. Fink

Posted

I did not mean to question the integrity of the asker. I should have been more clear that it is an ethical issue for you attorney. An attorney is ethically precluded from sharing any part of his or her fee with a non-lawyer. Regarding the reference to the $35,000 incentive award, it was federal case which was quite complex. I don't recall the amount recovered by the class. I remember it only because it was unusually large. Most incentive awards that I have seen have been in the neighborhood of $5,000.

Posted

This is something that should have been, and most likely was, discussed in great detail by your attorneys with you before you agreed to be a class representative. Furthermore, this should have been detailed in an addendum to the retainer agreement
Any questions you have regarding this or any aspect of the litigation should be discussed with class counsel.

THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS POSTING IS FOR GENERAL INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. THE FURNISHING OF THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP. AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES THE FURNISHING, REVIEW, AND SIGNING OF A RETAINER AGREEMENT.

Asker

Posted

My question concerns what I might be awarded from the judge due to my contribution (there wouldn't be a case without me), my efforts, and the amount of the verdict, which will most likely be "off the charts."

Jeffrey Steven Feinberg

Jeffrey Steven Feinberg

Posted

Speak with class counsel.

Posted

While it is not unheard of to be awarded an incentive fee of $10,000 or more, quite often it is a couple of grand. If you are looking to get rich, don't be a lead plaintiff. If you are looking to help others or teach the defendant a lesson and to correct its wrongful behavior be a lead plaintiff. Bear in mind that most putative class actions don't get certified.

My comments are general in nature, are not legal advice as to your specific issue, and do not establish an attorney-client relationship. Disregard this solicitation if you have already engaged a lawyer in connection with the legal matter referred to in this solicitation. You may wish to consult your lawyer or another lawyer instead of me. The exact nature of your legal situation will depend on many facts not known to me at this time. You should understand that the advice and information in this solicitation is general and that your own situation may vary. This statement is required by rule of the Supreme Court of Missouri.

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