A small group of people is about to be paid over two billion dollars.

What great deed could warrant such a payment? Did they invent a new product? Save a continent? Find a solution to world hunger? Make Bill Clinton monogamous?

Nope. While the average American toils away for $12.50 an hour, five law firms in Texas are about to be paid over $2,300,000,000 for their role in forcing tobacco companies to pay the state of Texas $15,300,000,000.

As far as we know, this is the biggest single payment for legal services in the history of mankind. We had thought the attorneys’ fees in the Florida tobacco settlement couldn’t be surpassed, but we were wrong.

Who approved this settlement? Why, another lawyer of course. U.S. District Court judge David Folsom called the payment “a reasonable fee” in his ruling on the tobacco settlement. Showing himself to be a true autocrat, Judge Folsom barred challenges to the settlement from proceeding in any court other than his.

Who was in charge of the deal which allows over two billion dollars of state funds to be used to pay attorneys? Surprise — another attorney. Texas Attorney General Dan Morales called the settlement “a proud and historic moment for Texas.” Proud indeed for a few of his fellow attorneys, who can now buy themselves big chunks of the Lone Star state. Historic, also: never has so much been paid to so few for so little work.

Texas Governor George W. Bush called the attorneys’ fees “clearly excessive and outrageous.”

If you ever doubted who controls America, think about this. Laws are made by legislators, many or most of whom are attorneys. At the federal level, laws are enforced by the President, who happens to be an attorney. (As is his wife, as well as the Vice-President.) Judges interpret the laws, and of course all judges are lawyers. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America is one of the biggest donors to political campaigns in America. As lawyers win ever-bigger billion dollar fees, they may no longer bother to control America; they’ll just buy the country outright.

In the past honest work was rewarded in America. But now the big money is really not in making products or providing services. Honest labor is now just for chumps. If you’re smart, you’ll get on the parasite train — just find somebody to sue. Long hours, innovation, sweat equity, pride of product — this is all just the stuff of fools. Join the modern royalty of success — Easy Street is just one big judgment away.

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0 thoughts on “BILLIONS FOR LAWYERS!

  1. nothing that as said here even holds a candle to what O.J. did to them two in Cal. it pmakes the movie pscho tame by comparison

    I do so hope that when I finally get my law degree, and pass the bar, that I can find someone as rich as the tobacco companies, and the general public to fleece… uh I mean to right the wrongs done to the unfortunate public.

    Time: 1/27/98 (18:7:38)

    The Rageback messages are interesting, but hard to read.. Perhaps have your computer guru re-set the program so that the First comment appears FIRST… etc… Other than that, you have a truly, near perfect system!

    Keep up the great work…

    Time: 1/27/98 (12:34:1)

    Oh to be uninformed!! Consider the following:

    1. Texas is not paying the lawyers, the big tobacco companies are. The settlement would have (in theory) only been for $13 billion if the greedy lawyers did not negotiate an additional $2.3 billion for themselves – thats the way the system works.

    2. Who else had the ability to recover $13 billion for Texas?? The tobacco companies were not going to pay that much voluntarily. You? Unless you are a greedy lawayer I dont think so. 15% is not a bad recovery if you think about it that way.

    3. Learn a little history before you start destroying it. In this country, the 19th century was FAR more latigious than the 20th century. Back when “an honest days work was paid an honest days pay” Americans were suing the hell out of each other.

    To be fair, there are more people today than back then but the percentage (law suits per person) was MUCH greater in the 1800’s than in the 1900’s.

    The tobacco lawsuits are farces. Florida could have raised the same amount of money by raising the cigarette tax seven cents a pack.

    Instead of a tax that would have subjected a legislator to the dreaded accusation that they raised a tax, a fate worse than death, they file a lawsuit agreeing to pay the lawyers a contingent fee.

    They get the recovery they expected, but could have obtained with a simple legislative vote, and then, after the settlement, they finally figure out what “one-third” means and that it is an obscene amount of money for a fee, and then they renege on the fee agreement and start calling the lawyers greedy.

    None of these lawsuits are necessary, the elected reps just don’t have the guts to vote for a tax increase, so they use the lawyersas the trusty scapegoats and demagogue this to death.

    The feds are going to pre-empt this whole thing, the money Florida and other states are spending like drunken sailors before they even get it will go back to the US as reimbursement and the end result will be that we will have faint memories of these grandstanding attorneys general who are all hot air with no trial skills and motivated by their egos and ambition – nothing else!

    With regard to Steven Calko’s comment, the tobacco shakedown was not about capitalism. Capitalism is about the creation of wealth, not the stealing of it.

    1. Insofar as the fees being ridiculous, they are.

    2. Insofar as the State being too stupid to realize that the percentage involved was going to pay the attorneys an incredible sum of money, way beyond anything that they are really entitled to, it is. If you lost that thought, I said the State was stupid.

    3. Insofar as the states and feds in general are now blackmailing the tobacco companies for something that the product users know, or should know, is harmful, that is what these suits are, legal blackmail. If the stuff is so bad, ban it! Oh. Sorry. Too many taxes would be lost to do that I guess. I won’t mention it again. I promise.

    There is a lot more to this particular issue, questions of legal causation, risk assumption, and so forth. But they are too expensive to litigate and the risk of loss is too great. Obviously, the tobacco companies can afford a certain amount of loss, in the billions, or they wouldn’t enter into these settlements.

    4. Excuse me, all you right wingers out there who don’t read, but the real problem in the choosing of Federal judges is rooted in some theory that only lawyers can interpret laws (shocking, I know), much the same way only doctors can prescribe medicine. But the Constitution does not say that you must be a lawyer to be a federal judge; not to sit on the Supreme Court and that’s a fact jack!

    If you want to blame someone, blame the American Bar Association!

    I admit to NOT being a member of that left wing group!

    Have a nice day! 🙂

    Lets make law schools illegal

    This is no surprise.

    In the 60(s) the liberals thought they could change the ‘WORLD” by protesting. PS I was one of them.

    Then they “grew up” and understood that “change” needed to come from the inside.

    Where we failed was that we left the back door open, (i.e. the schools, the universities, and the courts).

    More change happens today without “legislation” or review than ever before in American history.

    A must read
    Thomas Sowell
    Knowledge and Decisions

    It is a hard read but very rewarding.

    As for those comments below regarding the need for full disclosure by companies about the danger of their products, this is just absurd in the case of cigarette companies.

    Studies have shown, for quite some time, that the vast, overwhelming majority of smokers KNOW what they doing to themselves, and choose to take the risk.

    Are you next going to argue that beer companies need to tell the world that if you drink two six-packs every day you could have liver trouble?

    And do we really have to pay lawyers a few billion dollars to tell everyone what they already know?

    There is nothing inherent in capitalism that requires lawyers to transfer wealth to themselves for the good of us all.

    As for the percentage reward being in accord with “the ordinary course of litigation” yes, well, so what? First of all, this is obviously NOTordinary litigation. And, in any event, “ordinary litigation” awards are already goofy. This is akin to saying that, ordinarily, politicians lie, cheat, and steal, so we certainly ought to view such action asbeing acceptable.

    Time: 1/24/98 (16:1:53)

    Am not a lawyer: So can not say I am bias. Right on Scott Sherman. And You Have It on the mark Steve Calko.

    “Though he acknowledged that the attorneys could reap a record award, Folsom said the percentage is “well below that allowed by this court’s local rules and clearly in line with the standards of ordinary litigation.” He also noted that the fees could be reduced if the state ultimately collects less than $15.3 billion, because payments are tied to cigarette sales volume.”

    So, let’s get money back for Medicard payments, but people please keep smoking so that the cigarette companies can pay the “penalty”.

    The tobacco lawsuits are becoming the “new” way to raise revenue without anyone being held accountable. The legislature doesn’t get blamed for raising tobaco taxes. The trial lawyers get rich. This method is nothing more than a shakedown of drug dealers by the courts.

    What industry will their next target? Perhaps beer or milk. Automobiles maybe?

    Time: 1/24/98 (11:11:47)

    “Nope. While the average American toils away for $12.50 an hour,”

    Really? Can I come live in YOUR reality?

    Time: 1/24/98 (10:43:56)

    If I called lawyers the slime of the universe, someone would sue me. So we won’t say that. Sadly, the very foundation of principles this once-great country was founded on have been way-laid by greed. Plain and simple, greed. I’d love to know where the average worker making 12.50 an hour is, too, as was referred to in today’s outrage. Try half of that for the average working man. You must’ve put the average take of the scum amongst us in that tally of averages.

    I’m tired of thinking about it. Reader, editor, board monitor, whomever–have a great day.

    Time: 1/24/98 (9:49:40)

    What this system of government has become is truly outrageous. Truly controlled by the Judicial Branch(Esquires, a title of nobility). We supposedly have three equal branches of Government. You can be an Esquire and serve in the executive and legislative branch and remain with the first allegience to the judicial branch, (to be in good standing with the court); but a Citizen, who is not a lawyer, cannot serve in the Judicial branch. The statutory law has become so complicated buried in THE CODE, (criminal and civil), that not even most lawyers can understand, let alone a lay person. The Original Bill of Rights are written in common language but have been twisted by the spin doctors into a self serving institution for the Esquires, that now ignore the Constitution unless it serves their best interest..

    All this money paid to the STATE and ESQUIRES, come from the Citizens in the form of TAXES levied by the STATE whose LAWS were written by THE ESQUIRES. What a can of WORMS…

    Lawyers prey on others pain and suffering, using it to line their pockets. The political machine is a major player in this. Look at Kenneth Starr. Over 30 million of tax payers money has been spent in his investigations, yet he hasn’t really gotten much for “our” money! Most attorneys are like a fungus, subsisting on the daily outrages.

    Coming from Justice Brewer’s state (Kansas) and being a member of the evil profession myself, I feel compelled to put in my two cents (not 2 billion) worth. My view, I suppose, is a plague on all their houses.

    The state has held up the tobacco companies, like a liquor store stick-up, the companies have paid their 40 pieces of silver, and the attorney fees are less than 20% of the settlement amount. The fact that the judge has found the fees to be reasonable is sound, as far as it goes, since the system seeks to reward the attorneys who bring actions that bring about justice.

    Unfortunately, I see nothing just here. The state cares only about recovering its Medicaid payments and the companies care only about continuing the sales of their products.

    I guess what I’m saying is why single out the lawyers for their less than 20%, when there are plenty of immoral motives to go around. My view of the matter is the libertarian view: shame on the state for sticking its nose into what people put in their bodies.

    If they didn’t want to incur the expense of the Medicaid payments, they shouldn’t have participated in such a Pie in the Sky program. For the politicians to, with one hand, seek the benefits accruing from giving health care to the multitudes and, then, turn around and seek reimbursement for their folly is a perpetuation of their folly.

    For the Outrage to divert attention from the real malefactors here (the companies and the state) does nothing but allow them to continue to perpetrate their frauds. Shame on the Outrage.

    As I understand it the attoneys through their efforts created a fund from which the State of Texas receives $15 billion and the attorneys $2 billion. It cost Texas nothing. And Texas took no risks in the litigation. The attorneys did.

    I thought capitalism was about rewarding risk and creating wealth. If you are offended by that notion, there are economic systems available elsewhere in the world where the most you’ll ever make is $12 an hour.

    I encourage the readers of this coulmn to read the newspaper article. The factual omissions made by the writer of this column in his quest for sensationalism poses the question of who poses a bigger risk to the Republic: “greedy” lawyers or those members of the media who play short and fast with the truth.

    The Nazis took over Germany with propaganda not accumluation of wealth. Beware of the self-proclaimed defenders of the little man. Yes, I’m a lawyer and I’m proud of it.

    The United States is ruled and governed by Lawyers and Judges, Judges whom once were attorneys.

    I have said this before and say it again, why is it mandatory that “you” cannot be a Judges unless you are a Lawyer?

    I ask, if a person has a Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate Degree why does the law prohibit this person from serving as a Judge?

    As far as the Attorney fees are concerned, why are they any different from Professional ballplayers who make more than 2.3 million for 6 months of labor? The Law firm set the percentage, the plaintiff agreed to the percentage, what’s the big deal?

    Spiraling downward, American attorneys continue their assault on society’s wealth. Their weapon of choice is no less powerful than Darth Vader’s light saber.

    That weapon is the unethical argument that “my client’s condition is the result of someone else’s action or inaction and therefore, my client is not responsible for the outcome” The thing that makes this argument so insidiously lethal to society is that it nullifies accountability.

    How does a nation of victims insure its longevity? Certainly not by rewarding every tobacco addict with membership in the Americans with Disabilities group.

    Regardles of the outrageous amount of the lawyer’s fees, they did have a contract with the state of Texas that provided for paying them that much money (I presume that the contract called for a percentag of the total to go to the lawyers).

    Texas made a mistake in signing that original contract with the lawyers. Regardless, it is quite improper for judges to rule that a contract with the government is invalid simply because it is a bad deal for one party. Are we to give the judges such power to render any contract null just because they do not like it?

    The amount is outrageous. But the judge was correct in not overturning it.


    This story was far better than the last. It held me, especially the part about Prez Bush Jr., up until the end. Who writes these little opinion summaries? What grade is he in? Please start to get realistic, even crappy local newspaper op-ed sections do not get this basic and banal. Go somewhere and stop saying things every bum on the streets mutters to themselves in their sleep.

    What I find even more outragous than the fee that the attorneys who assisted Texas in settling with the tobacco industry is that the state of Florida, after contracting with attorneys on a fee, decieded to go back on it’s contract and argued for a smaller fee, after attorneys negotiated a similar settlement with the tobacco industry.

    It was such a cold day in Maine that the only pockets trial lawyers had their hands in were their own!

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