One of the most common questions we get from clients is “what are the attorney fees for the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit?”
Although most other law firms are charging fees of 40%, our Camp Lejeune attorney fees are 20% or 25% of the total recovery, depending on the stage your case is resolved or settled.
Camp Lejeune Attorney Fees Should Be Capped At 20% or 25%
Fob James Law Firm honors the attorney fee caps in both the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 and the Federal Tort Claims Act. The language in these Acts expressly limit attorney fees to 20% or 25% of the total recovery.
Accordingly, if your Camp Lejeune claim is resolved without litigation, the attorney’s fee is 20% of the settlement. And if your claim is resolved after filing a lawsuit, the attorney’s fee is 25% of the total amount recovered.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022, which was signed into law in August 2022, did not include the attorney’s fee cap provision that was in the 2021 version of the bill. This has caused widespread confusion and many law firms are charging 40% contingency fees or higher.
Three Reasons For Capping Fees At 25%
The attorneys fees in Camp Lejeune water contamination cases should be capped at 20% or 25% for three main reasons:
- The Federal Tort Claims Act caps attorney fees at 20% or 25%. The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 incorporates the claims process of the FTCA.
- The Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2021 provided that the attorney fees are limited to 20% or 25% of the recovery or settlement. This provision was later removed from the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 but the language incorporating the claims process of the FTCA remained.
- For many Camp Lejeune claims, liability has already been established. This means that the cost and time to litigate these claims are substantially less than traditional toxic tort cases.
Our Camp Lejeune lawyers charge either a 20% or 25% attorney’s fee depending on if your claim resolves without litigation. If we do not obtain a recovery then you owe us nothing, not even expenses.
To schedule your free consultation with an attorney at the Fob James Law Firm, give us a call at (833) 684-0503 or contact us online.
Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawyers Charge a “Contingency Fee”
Like most plaintiff firms, Fob James Law Firm operates on the contingency-fee-basis. This means we only get paid a percentage of the recovery if we successfully resolve your case. Our fees come out of a favorable settlement or jury award, not out of your pocket.
For example, say your case is resolved for $500,000.00 without litigation and the contingency fee is 20%. The attorney’s fee in this case would be $100,000.00.
Many clients have told us that other firms are charging 40% to 45% contingency fees for presumptive Camp Lejeune cases. These fee percentages are outrageous because for many claims, the injury suffered [e.g. bladder cancer] is presumed to have been caused by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
The Federal Tort Claims Act Caps Attorney Fees
Historically, negligence claims filed against the federal government are brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
For example, before the Camp Lejeune Justice Act (CLJA) was signed into law, Camp Lejeune victims filed lawsuits against the federal government under the FTCA.
In most environmental tort cases where liability is disputed, law firms typically charge a 40% contingency fee.
However, under Section 2678 of the Federal Tort Claims Act, the attorney fees in tort claims brought against employees of the federal government are capped at a percentage of 20% or 25%, depending on the stage of the case.
The relevant text of the FTCA is below:
No attorney shall charge, demand, receive, or collect for services rendered, fees in excess of 25 per centum of any judgment rendered pursuant to section 1346(b) of this title or any settlement made pursuant to section 2677 of this title, or in excess of 20 per centum of any award, compromise, or settlement made pursuant to section 2672 of this title.Section 2678, Federal Tort Claims Act
Hypothetical #1 – Your Case is Settled Before Filing a Lawsuit
According to Section 2678 of the FTCA, if your claim is resolved administratively (e.g. the claim is submitted to the Department of Defense and it settles the claim administratively), the lawyer’s fee is capped at 20% of the total recovery.
For example, say your case settled pre-litigation for $100,000.00, the attorney’s fee would be $20,000.00.
Hypothetical #2 – You File a Lawsuit
Under Section 2678 of the FTCA, if your claim is resolved by settlement or judgment after the filing of a lawsuit, the attorney’s fee is capped at 25% of the total recovery.
In this situation, if your case was resolved after filing a lawsuit for $100,000.00, the attorney’s fee would be $25,000.00.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Incorporates the Claims Process of the FTCA
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act in Section 2 paragraph (g) specifically incorporates the FTCA’s legal process set forth in 28 U.S. Code § 2675:
(g) Disposition By Federal Agency Required.—An individual may not bring an action under this section before complying with section 2675 of title 28, United States Code.S.3176
This means that Camp Lejeune claims must first be submitted to the Office of the JAG. Thereafter, the JAG will have six months to administratively resolve the claim. If the claim is not resolved within six months, claimants can file lawsuits in federal court in North Carolina.
Because the CLJA incorporates the FTCA’s claim process and tort claims against the federal government are historically brought under the FTCA, we believe that Camp Lejeune lawyer fees should be capped under the FTCA.
The Camp Lejeune Justice Act Of 2021 Limited Attorney Fees To 20% or 25%
The March 26, 2021 version of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act [H.R. 2192], which was introduced to the House of Representatives, specifically limited attorneys fees to 20% or 25% based on Section 2678 of the FTCA:
(H) ATTORNEY FEES.—ATTORNEY FEES FOR SERVICES PROVIDED TO AN INDIVIDUAL SEEKING A REMEDY UNDER THIS SECTION SHALL BE IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 2678 OF TITLE 28, UNITED STATES CODE [FTCA].H.R. 2192
This attorney fee provision was later removed from the Senate’s 2022 version of the bill [S.3176]. However, Section 2(g) of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, which incorporates the claims process of the FTCA, remained in the final bill passed by Congress and signed into law. As a result, Camp Lejeune attorney fees should be limited pursuant to the “spirit” of the bill.
In any event, Fob James Law Firm honors the FTCA and original version of the CLJA, thus our Camp Lejeune attorney fees are limited to 20% or 25% of the total amount recovered.
A 20-25% Contingency Fee For Camp Lejeune Water Cases Is Reasonable
Aside from the FTCA, Camp Lejeune Justice Act claimants should not be charged a 40% contingency fee. In the typical toxic tort case, liability and medical causation are heavily disputed. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the toxic substance at issue caused the injury.
In order to prove the toxin is dangerous, plaintiff attorneys must hire expensive experts. Likewise, in order to prove the toxin caused the alleged injury, plaintiff attorneys must retain medical causation experts (e.g. Doctors) that relate the injury to the toxic substance.
Well funded corporate defendants hire their own expensive experts to rebut the plaintiff’s experts. This process is very costly and time consuming as is the discovery process required to obtain the information needed to prove the case by a preponderance of the evidence.
For many Camp Lejeune cases, liability and medical causation are well established. Studies have been administered by private groups and government agencies reflecting a causal connection between the water and a myriad of illnesses. The VA has found that various injuries are “service connected” as a direct result of the toxic water exposure.
For cases where liability has not been conceded, the CLJA requires a lower burden of proof than conventional negligence cases. Simply put, there is less workup required to prosecute many Camp Lejeune claims, especially those that have presumptive conditions. As a result, Fob James Law Firm believes that a fee percentage of 20% or 25% is fair and reasonable.
What Are the Presumptive Conditions for Camp Lejeune Claims?
In the disability context, a presumptive condition is a disease the Department of Veteran Affairs believes was likely caused by certain exposure during the veteran’s active duty service.
A presumptive condition is typically supported by scientific evidence and peer reviewed medical studies that relate the disease to a specific exposure during military service.
The VA’s Presumptive Conditions
For Camp Lejeune water contamination claims, the VA has conceded that the following diseases are presumed to have been caused by 30 days or more of exposure to the toxic water at Camp Lejeune between August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987:
- Adult leukemia
- Liver cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Aplastic anemia
- Kidney cancer
- Parkinson’s disease
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Multiple myeloma
This list is not exhaustive as it is in context of a veteran’s disability claim related to toxic water exposure.
However, the list also applies to a victim pursuing a claim under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. A claimant with one of the diseases above will have a very strong case because the government has already conceded that a causal relationship exists between the disease and exposure to the toxic water.
Presumptive Conditions Under The Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012
Many non-veterans were exposed to the toxic water, including family members that lived on base. For this reason, the government passed the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012.
This law requires the Department of Veteran Affairs to provide health care to Veterans who served on active duty at Camp Lejeune and to reimburse eligible Camp Lejeune family members for health care costs related to the following 15 specified illnesses or medical conditions:
- Bladder cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Female infertility
- Hepatic steatosis
- Kidney cancer
- Lung cancer
- Miscarriage (while at Camp Lejeune)
- Multiple myeloma
- Myelodysplastic syndromes
- Neurobehavioral effects
- Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Renal toxicity
The Camp Lejeune Families Act not only includes five of the VA’s eight presumptive diseases, but also ten additional illnesses such as cancers of the breast, esophagus and lungs.
Accordingly, claimants with illnesses covered under the Camp Lejeune Families Act also have strong claims and arguably have “presumptive conditions”.
In any event, Fob James Law Firm charges every Camp Lejeune client the same attorney fees. We do not charge clients with a “non-VA-presumed condition” a different fee structure than clients with a “VA-presumed condition”.
Other Conditions Linked to Contaminants in the Water at Camp Lejeune
In addition to the presumptive conditions under the VA and Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, many other conditions could be caused by the toxic water at Camp Lejeune.
In fact, the JAG’s claim form lists conditions beyond those that the VA deems presumptive. Most notably, the claim form includes boxes for “other kidney diseases”, “cardiac defect”, and “Other (Please explain)”.
The medical evidence connecting the toxic water to various diseases continues to evolve, especially with respect to neurological conditions. Below are conditions that, according to various studies and medical research, may be caused by the toxic water:
- ALS (LOU GERHIG’S DISEASE)
- BIRTH DEFECTS AND INJURIES
- BRAIN DAMAGE
- BRAIN CANCER
- FATTY LIVER DISEASE
- HEPATIC STEATOSIS
- NEUROBEHAVIORAL EFFECTS
- UTERINE CANCER
- PARKINSONIAN SYNDROME
- RENAL TOXICITY
- OTHER CANCERS
- OTHER NEUROLOGICAL DISEASES
If you have not been diagnosed with a “presumptive condition”, do not assume that you do not have a case. Contact Fob James Law Firm for a free consultation and case review with an experienced attorney.
Legislators and Veteran Groups Are Seeking An Amendment To The Camp Lejeune Justice Act
Many law firms are charging high fee percentages because they are spending millions of dollars in advertising. Also, many law firms are referring cases to other law firms that will actually do the work.
These law firms must charge higher legal fees to recoup marketing costs or to compensate multiple law firms.
Due to the exorbitant fees charged by some law firms, legislators are seeking legislation capping attorney fees for CLJA claims.
Fee Cap Proposals in the House of Representatives
On December 6, 2022, Rep. Mike Bost, R-IL., along with Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA and eight others introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to cap Camp Lejeune lawyer fees at 25%. This legislation tracks the fee caps under the FTCA and the fees charged by Fob James Law Firm.
On February 28, 2023, Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.) and Mark Takano (Calif.) introduced a bill that would limit attorney fees to 20% of a settlement reached within 180 days of presenting a claim to the JAG. If the claim did not settle within 180 days, the attorney’s fee would be limited to 33.33%.
Fee Cap Proposals in the Senate
Through the Protect Camp Lejeune VETS Act, Senator Sullivan has proposed fee caps of 12% if the case is administratively resolved or 17% if a lawsuit is filed. This proposal is endorsed by the American Legion and co-sponsored by 13 other senators.
On the other hand, Senator Durbin has indicated he will propose fee caps of 20% if the case is administratively resolved or 33.33% if a lawsuit is filed.
We believe that if a fee cap amendment is passed, the fee caps will fall somewhere in between Senator Sullivan and Senator Durbin’s proposals (e.g. 25%).
Contact Fob James Law Firm If You Need Help With Your Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Claim
Fob James Law Firm is honored to represent veterans and their families all over the country in connection with their Camp Lejeune claims. We currently represent clients in 40 states and counting as of March 2023:
Regardless of where you reside, all Camp Lejeune claims are initially filed with the Office of the JAG. If the claim is not resolved administratively, lawsuits are filed in federal court in North Carolina.
If you would like to discuss a Camp Lejeune claim, please call us toll free at (833) 684-0503. You can also reach out online today for a free, no-obligation consultation.