You may recall the horrific
Staten Island Ferry accident in 2003 that left 11 of the estimated 1,500 passengers dead and many more
hurt. The accident spurred more than 170 lawsuits. The highest amount
went to James McMillan, Jr., who was paralyzed in the maritime accident
and suffered the most severe injuries save death. McMillan was awarded
$18.3 million in September 2008, more than twice the highest amount awarded
by that point.
In addition to the $18.3 million award, however, the judge reduced McMillan’s
lawyer’s fee to 20 percent of the judgment, bringing the fee down
from $6.1 million to $3.7 million. Personal injury attorneys typically
get some 33 percent of judgments.
In June 2009 McMillan requested permission to pay his attorney the higher
fee, stating that his lawyer earned and deserved the money.
He told the New York Federal Court magistrate, “I don’t need that
extra. I want him to have it. He worked for it.” For some, money
isn’t everything, but having a trustworthy and dependable attorney is close.