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No $12M, No Problem: Law Firms OK $174M Contingent Fee

Posted Dec 18, 2007 6:59 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Last year, Alaska officials weren't successful when they sought $12 million from the state legislature to fund potential litigation against a former Alaska actuary.

But that didn't prove to be a significant roadblock to bringing suit—Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison and a local law firm agreed to take the case on a contingency-fee basis, reports the Juneau Empire. If the New York City firm and Lessmeier & Winters of Juneau win the full $1.8 billion they are seeking on behalf of the Alaska Retirement Management Board, they will take home a significantly larger paycheck—$174 million.

The defendant in the case is Mercer Inc., a division of the Marsh and McLellan Cos. insurance brokerage and strategic risk adviser. The state contends it is facing a significant pension fund shortfall because of errors in Mercer's calculations of how much money it should have set aside. However, Mercer says the state is holding it responsible for factors outside its control.

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