FTC Seeks to Limit Attorney Fees in Class Action Suits; Cases That Follow Government Probes Closely Examined

Washington Post
Monday, September 30, 2002

The trial lawyers who file class action suits on behalf of consumers are used to fighting off defense attorneys from corporate America. Now, they have another adversary: the Federal Trade Commission.

So far this year, the FTC has challenged attorney fees in three proposed class action settlements, winning in two cases.

It also has urged the Judicial Conference, which oversees the federal court system, to amend its class action rules in a way that could limit attorney fees, particularly in cases that rely on information already uncovered by government agencies. And the agency recently published a guide for consumers, "Need a Lawyer? Judge for Yourself," giving advice on how to pick a lawyer -- and seek a lower fee.


The agency is especially looking to challenge coupon settlements, he added, because coupons often are worth only a fraction of the cost of the alleged wrongdoing and can be redeemed only for a limited time -- and only if the consumer buys a more expensive product or service.

Trial lawyers and their allies aren't happy about the FTC initiative.
"This seems to dovetail with the political agenda of this administration to cut contingency fees of lawyers and discourage class lawsuits," said Joanne Doroshow, executive director of the Center for Justice and Democracy, a nonprofit group that joined the Association of Trial Lawyers of America to fight efforts in Congress to limit product liability lawsuits.

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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