March 23, 1998
Fact and Comment: Obscenity
by Steve Forbes
- TRIAL LAWYERS ARE POISED to reap billions of dollars in those tobacco
settlements. This is an outrage, and ought to be blocked. Lawyers retained
by the state of Florida to go after tobacco companies, for instance, could
make the equivalent of almost $8,000 an hour. In Texas it's even worse.
In Minnesota the agreement Attorney General Skip Humphrey cut with a politically-friendly
law firm, which stands to collect $442 million, remains secret. Hiring
outsiders on such a lavish contingency-fee basis is pure political pork
on an obscene scale. Guess who the biggest contributors to the Democratic
Party are: trial lawyers. State governments and Washington have thousands
of lawyers on their payrolls. If governments can't rely on their own in-house
counsel, they can do what any sensible business would do-hire outsiders
at a fixed hourly rate.
- Should Congress pass a federal settlement, countless lawyers will each
reap many millions of dollars simply because of their political connections.
- Representatives Christopher Cox (R-Calif.), Scott McInnis (R-Colo.)
and Paul McHale (D-Pa.) are proposing to cap fees at the rate of $150 for
each hour of documented work. There would also be full disclosure as to
who got how much. The American people would pass such a bill in a nanosecond.
But will Congress and the White House? This bill's fate will be a good
barometer of the scale of corruption in American politics today.
This is a page in the section entitled Lawyers
Make Billions at Expense of Sick and Dying Smokers in the Web site
entitled Legal Reform Through Transforming the
Discipline of Law into a Science.