Judge: 9/11 settlements, fees exorbitant

“A federal judge in Manhattan took the unusual step on Thursday of overturning settlements in four lawsuits filed on behalf of victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, saying the firm that negotiated the deals was seeking excessive legal fees and that the settlement amounts themselves were unreasonable.” Judge Alvin Hellerstein declared that to give the Maryland-based firm, Azrael, Gann & Franz $7 million for representing four Pentagon workers’ families “would reflect a very large windfall,” given that the firm’s “entire strategy seems to have been to coast on the work of others.” Hellerstein also noted that the settlement figures, averaging $7 million per victim, seemed out of line with earlier 9/11 awards for the families of modest wage earners. (Benjamin Weiser, “Judge Overturns Accords in 4 Suits by 9/11 Victims”, New York Times, Jul. 26). More: David Giacalone.


  • It is great to see a judge reminding p/i lawyers that contingency fees should be related to the risk taken and work done by the lawyers. Of course, Judge Hellerstein will be ignored by firms who face no serious judicial scrutiny.

  • Walter, I meant to leave my full name with the Comment above. I think we should always be willing to stand behind our online opinions.