Sen. Dan Sullivan, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, welcomed a report Monday that the Department of Justice has begun enforcing caps on the fees trial lawyers can charge in cases representing sick Marines and others impacted by water contamination at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
The caps, which were announced in September, came after Sen. Sullivan pressed the issue for more than a year in the Senate, and discussed the issue with U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland two weeks prior to the announcement of caps by the DOJ.
On Monday, Bloomberg News reported that the DOJ had begun requesting attorney fee caps be enforced “following the guidelines in Federal Tort Claims Act, which limits attorney fees to 20% for administrative settlements, and 25% for claims resulting from litigation.”
The story highlight’s Sullivan’s role in working with Garland to institute the caps.
“In my eight years in the U.S. Senate, there are few issues I’ve been involved with that more desperately cry out for a just resolution. My Democratic colleagues fought hard to keep attorney’s fees caps out of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, with the predictable result of unscrupulous trial lawyers trying to grab sixty to seventy percent of the compensation owed to sick Marines and their families, and spending hundreds of millions of dollars to lure Marines into these ultra-high contingency fee arrangements,” said Sen. Sullivan. “I’ve been fighting this injustice tooth and nail for over a year with legislation, unanimous consent requests on the Senate floor, and repeated engagement with the administration. I’m pleased to say, after several productive phone calls, the Attorney General agreed with me and the DOJ is now enforcing these caps.”
Sullivan thanked the U.S. Attorney General for “doing the right thing, and the countless Marines and Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs) who courageously spoke out and demanded Congress and the administration fix this. While this is excellent news for the thousands of Americans who suffered after serving at Camp Lejeune, I am still concerned that the new caps are too high, given the fact that Congress reduced the burden of proof for these cases, making them significantly easier to win. I’ll continue working with my colleagues to advance my Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act to set these caps at a just and reasonable level and maximize the compensation for the individuals who actually deserve it.”
Marines and impacted individuals can seek compensation as a result of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which became law in August 2022 in the larger Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act. In May 2022, the Biden Justice Department provided technical guidance on the PACT Act, recommending the legislation cap attorney’s fees.
During consideration of the PACT Act, Senate Democrats blocked votes on any amendments, including an amendment to cap legal fees. Since passage of the law, trial lawyers across the country have unleashed over a billion dollars in television ads and social media campaigns, seeking out Marines and other victims for Camp Lejeune-related cases and charging contingency fees reportedly as high as 60 percent.