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Labor & Employment

Plaintiffs Lawyers to Earn Up to $28M in Risky Wal-Mart Wage & Hour Litigation

Posted Nov 4, 2009 3:26 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Although Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has agreed to pay as much as $85 million to settle 39 consolidated wage-and-hour class action lawsuits involving more than 3 million employees, it wasn't at all clear when the litigation began to unfold that the case would be a big winner.

Now a hot litigation practice area, suing employers over unpaid overtime and missed breaks wasn't in fashion five years ago. This fact is reflected in the hefty attorney fees awarded to plaintiffs lawyers Monday by a federal judge in Nevada, as part of the global Wal-Mart settlement he approved, reports the National Law Journal.

"The court finds that class counsel have achieved an exceptionally favorable result for the members of the settlement classes by diligently pursuing this complex litigation for years despite the substantial risk of no recovery," writes U.S. District Judge Philip Pro.

More than 135 attorneys from 45 law firms will share in the counsel award, which will be one third of the total settlement, the legal publication recounts. Thus, if plaintiffs get the potential maximum of $85 million, their lawyers would get $28 million.

Hundreds of thousands of the company's workers can expect to see checks in the range of $150 to $1,000 in the next few months, plaintiffs lawyer Carolyn Beasley Burton tells Bloomberg.

The company's general counsel, Tom Mars, said the settlement was in the best interest of Wal-Mart, its shareholders and its employees when he announced it late last year. “Many of these lawsuits were filed years ago, and the allegations are not representative of the company we are today," he stated.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Wal-Mart’s $640M Deal May Be Largest Wage Settlement Ever"

ABAJournal.com: "Wal-Mart Agrees to $54.3M Settlement of Minn. Wage-and-Hour Suit"

ABAJournal.com: "Judge Adds $49M in Atty Fees to Wal-Mart OT Bill; Total Nears $200M"

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