Chamber Wants Investigation Of Attorneys' Fees From Tobacco Suit

The President of the United States Chamber of Commerce said the amount of money attorneys have received is outrageous. In some cases, he said, fees represent more than the economies of some small countries. And he says, those large fees are damaging to the U.S. economy.

"They've made no secret of the fact that a portion of those billions of dollars are earmarked for new causes of action, with numerous businesses and industries on their 'hit' list," Thomas Donohue said. "The threat is real, and no industry is immune."

Several coast attorneys did make big money handling the tobacco suit. Pascagoula attorney Dickie Scruggs brought in almost $340 million. The firm Benton, McCormick, Rhoden of Biloxi made nearly $215 million. Biloxi attorney Paul Minor and Pascagoula attorney Robert Oswald each earned $71.5 million.

Minor says the fees have already by scrutinized by several courts and have been found to be reasonable because of the risks the attorneys took in taking the case and because of the results. Minor says the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is just a front for large companies that are trying to protect themselves from future lawsuits.

"What they want to do is protect companies like Ford and Firestone from the horrible injuries that these companies have caused when they disregard the safety of the American people," Minor said.

Dickie Scruggs told us, "None of the clients are complaining that we've been overpaid. They got their money's worth. The lawyers got less than three percent of what they got their clients."

The Chamber of Commerce says it intends to send letters to the Republican and Democratic leaders in Washington to request hearings to investigate the fees.

  • CLICK HERE for a list of how much attorneys in each state made from the landmark case against big tobacco companies.