Plaintiffs’ firms that led the legal campaign against Bayer AG are fighting over $800 million in fees from the Roundup weedkiller litigation, arguing that they deserve a bigger slice of one of the largest-ever corporate settlements than firms that joined later.
The high-stakes dispute is coming to the fore eight months after Roundup’s maker, Bayer, announced that it would pay up to $9.6 billion to resolve 125,000 cancer claims brought by dozens of law firms. The fee fight underscores increasing tension between law firms that do the in-court work necessary to win cases and those that advertise to sign up scores of clients.
The leadership firms, led by Andrus Wagstaff PC, Weitz & Luxenberg PC and the Miller Firm, argue that they invested at least $20 million and years of time to build a case linking Roundup to cancer. They described the common-benefit fund as a sort of “tax” on law firms that waited until the litigation was successful before getting involved.
Several law firms have objected, saying the court doesn’t have the power to create the common fund—estimated at $800 million. They say the leadership team is trying to double-dip, speculating that their confidential deals with Bayer are already more lucrative than those that other firms received.
“They’ve already been adequately compensated multiple times over,” [said lawyer] Melissa Ephron.