FLINT, Michigan (WJRT) – (3/24/2021) – More than 33,000 people have signed up to attend the $ 641 million Flint Water Settlement.
Registrations are closed on Monday, but there are concerns about legal fees, which could add up to more than $ 200 million of that money.
While waiting for a judge to rule on this amount, there is increasing demand for more transparency about this process.
During Monday’s Special Affairs Committee meeting, Flint City Council joined Mayor Sheldon Neeley in calling for transparency in all steps of the settlement process.
“The Flint community has suffered enough and deserves transparency to ensure these dollars are given to Flint families and children as intended.” Said Neeley.
“This would be a thorough review and an opportunity for residents to see documentation of fees and expenses on their behalf,” he added.
Neeley wants to know how the lawyers would be entitled to get a third of the total proposed settlement and figure out exactly where all that money is going, but it’s not just city officials who are affected.
“We all know and work with people whose children are badly affected by the Flint water crisis, and we truly believe the vast majority of those dollars will go to the affected children rather than going into the attorney’s pockets,” said State Representative John Cherry.
Cherry and other members of Michigan House in the Flint area are calling on Judge Levy to limit attorney fees to ten percent of the settlement instead of more than thirty percent, and they formally passed the resolution on Wednesday.
While they cannot legally lower the fee, make sure the court understands their point of view, but the lawyers involved in the case disagree.
“We litigated aggressively with about 80,000 or 90,000 hours of legal hours and about 10 million labor costs,” said Attorney Hunter Shkolnik.
Shkolnik is the co-lead counsel for each plaintiff. He says a six percent fee for the senior attorney is normal and is about $ 50 million out of that $ 200 million.
The remaining roughly $ 150 million would go to attorneys with individual retention agreements and pay their attorney 27 percent instead of a third allowed by the State Bar of Michigan. Shkolnik says they negotiated to lower that number to keep legal fees down in the overall bill.
Regarding transparency, he says there is a special master who oversees the hours for the lawyers each month and encourages the public to follow the proceedings open to them.
“If they heard the care and attention of the judge and the special master, they would understand that no one is doing anything behind their back or doing anything inappropriately,” Shkolnik said.
Click here to visit the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and find upcoming hearings.
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