The reasonableness of attorneys fees is a question of State law; and it is a question that I believe most Texans feel should be resolved by our States courts.
Questioning the size of the fees should not be viewed in any way as an attempt to undermine the settlement. To the contrary, the questioning of the fees, in my opinion, is based upon notions of good public policy and concerns about violations of State constitutional laws.
Paying $2.3 billion in legal fees for a case that was not even tried, no matter how you break it down, is an outrageous legal bill.
According to the Florida Attorney Generals office the plaintiffs attorneys in Floridas tobacco litigation, which lasted almost a year longer than Texas' case, and which included ten additional law firms, have claimed expenses of less than $12 million. Texas expense figures thus seem disproportionately high, especially because the state benefited from the massive document discovery that Florida and Mississippi had already accumulated in their lawsuits when Texas filed suit.
If the arbitration panel awards anything less than $1.8 billion, it appears to me that the State is under a federal court order to pay the remainder. In light of this the statement that the State will not have to pay one penny for the outstanding legal and consulting services it received appears incorrect.
It will be interesting to see, when all is said and done, the total amount of fees recovered by the private team of lawyers for the work actually performed on this case versus the amount of money actually received into General Revenue to be spent for Texans. I suspect the actual percentage will well exceed 15%.