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Judge: Limit attorney fees to one third in peanut cases

U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Urbanski recommends limiting attorneys’ fee to 33 1/3 percent for child and wrongful death claims arising from the Salmonella outbreak from products made by the Lynchburg-based Peanut Corporation of America.

A report and recommendation issued by Urbanski on Wednesday recommends approval of $12 million in settlements from a fund established to pay personal injury claims related to the outbreak. 122 claimants would share in the fund. Claim amounts were negotiated in a process involving an appointed claims administrator who is an expert in food borne illness litigation.

The total amount of claim values was $15 million. Reducing the total to $12 million would mean claimants will get about 80 cents on the dollar.

Claims for infants and death cases demanded extra judicial scrutiny. Urbanski noted two lawyers sought fees of 40 and 45 percent, which he recommended be cut down to 33 1/3 percent.

By Peter Vieth

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