As I understand it, the lawyers representing thousands of commercial fishermen and other plaintiffs will take a 22 percent cut of whatever punitive damages ultimately are collected from Exxon Mobil Corp. for the 1989 oil spill.
But these legal fees aren’t the only deduction to be taken from the $383 million Exxon has paid so far.
The lawyers have filed this motion to also deduct $26.5 million in expenses rung up over the course of the nearly 20-year battle with Exxon.
The motion includes some eye-popping numbers:
• 2,348 attorneys and paralegals from more than 60 law firms worked on behalf of 32,677 plaintiffs.
• More than 10 million pages of documents were produced.
• During 83 trial days in federal court, 155 witnesses testified, including 36 experts on everything from alcohol testing to fish biology and pricing.
Expenses were largely for travel, copying, experts and operating trial offices, the motion says.
In pressing the case, the lawyers risked never recouping their expenses, and took steps to self-police their expense requests to limit excesses, the motion adds.
For example, copy costs were not to exceed 20 cents per page and “secretarial overtime was precluded.”
The motion asks federal Judge H. Russel Holland to approve the requested $26.5 million as reimbursement for “expenses that were reasonably incurred in the prosecution of this massive litigation.”