$2 million 9/11 fee under fire

by Walter Olson on September 8, 2006

“Laura Balemian, whose husband Edward J. Mardovich died in the World Trade Center, received one of the largest awards paid out by the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund: $6.7 million. But she in turn paid out what is almost certainly the highest legal fee. While the vast majority of victims were represented before the fund pro bono or for a nominal fee, Balemian paid her lawyer, Thomas J. Troiano, a one-third contingent fee, or over $2 million.” In an affidavit, 9/11 fund special master Kenneth Feinberg calls Troiano’s fee “shocking and unconscionable”, and says that fund guidelines recommend that attorney fees be kept under 5 percent of family recoveries; Troiano, however, says Mrs. Balemian knew what she was getting into and that his efforts produced outstanding results. (Anthony Lin, “Attorney’s $2 Million 9/11 Fee Called ‘Shocking, Unconscionable'”, New York Law Journal, Aug. 29; Alfonso A. Castillo, “9/11 widow battles over attorney’s fee”, Newsday, Sept. 1; MyShingle, Aug. 28).

Update: Story also covered in this American Justice Partnership publication (PDF).

{ 2 comments }

1 Pat W 09.08.06 at 7:11 am

Kind of torn on this one. Yes, it’s pretty swarmy to get 1/3 from the 9/11 Great Taxpayer Robbery. However, apparently at first the fund offered 1.1M and he pulled out the stops and got 6.6M. IF that is true, then perhaps he deserves 1/3 of 6.6M – 1.1M.

2 Amy Alkon 09.08.06 at 10:28 pm

Here’s a question for you lawyers: if we’re paying the relatives of victims of 9/11, couldn’t this be considered precedent for many, many others to collect in other incidents?

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