Attorney Fees

Judge Awards Ferry Victim $18M, But Cuts Lawyer’s Contingent Fee

  • Print

A New York federal judge has awarded a record $18.3 million to the most seriously injured victim of the 2003 Staten Island Ferry crash, but slashed the contingent fee due his lawyer from one-third of the award to 20 percent.

The victim, James McMillan, was a former fish market worker who was paralyzed in the accident, the New York Times reports. His award is the highest judgment ever against the city of New York in a personal injury case, according to the city’s law department.

U.S. District Judge Jack Weinstein said the fee cut was merited in part because the case had a strong likelihood of a substantial award, the New York Law Journal reports. Weinstein also said McMillan was hospitalized and in pain when he signed the retainer agreement and was not in a position to negotiate.

As a result of Weinstein’s decision, McMillan’s lawyer, Evan Torgan, will get $3.6 million instead of about $6 million.

Torgan had contended the lowered fee could chill lawyers’ inclination to take ferry cases to trial. McMillan had originally been offered a settlement of $10 million.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.