Ranking Member Bost, Rep. Issa Co-Lead Bill to Cap Attorney Fees for Camp Lejeune Veterans and their Families
Washington, December 6, 2022 | Kathleen McCarthy
Today, Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, released the following statements after they introduced H.R. 9430, the Camp Lejeune Veterans and Families Protection Act, legislation to cap attorney fees for awards under the Camp Lejeune Federal Cause of Action to ensure that veterans and their families are protected from exorbitant fees.
“Our Camp Lejeune veterans and their families have tolerated enough. The last thing they should have to endure is high legal fees in order to have their day in court,” said Ranking Member Bost. “That’s why I am introducing the Camp Lejeune Veterans and Families Protection Act today, sound legislation to cap the percentage lawyers can charge Camp Lejeune veterans who may seek their legal services. As a Marine Corps veteran, I am proud to lead this bill with my friend, Rep. Issa, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of families who were affected by the Camp Lejeune water contamination crisis. I hope to get it through the House and signed into law as soon as possible.”
“While the PACT Act was a step forward for veterans affected by the water crisis at Camp Lejeune, it also opened the door for unscrupulous attorneys to prey on desperate victims and engage in lawsuit abuse,” said Rep. Issa. “As a result, millions of dollars could go to predatory law firms, rather than deserving Marines and their families. That’s why I’m joining my colleagues by authoring H.R. 9430.”
The Camp Lejeune Veterans and Families Protection Act is cosponsored by Rep. Issa, Rep. Radewagen, Rep. Bergman, Rep. Barry Moore, Rep. Cawthorn, Rep. Mace, Rep. Ellzey, Rep. Conway, and Rep. Harshbarger.
“The PACT Act finally offers critical benefits and care to toxic-exposed veterans of all generations, but the law lacks protections for those who may seek to file Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits. The VFW thanks Mr. Bost for working to limit legal fees for Camp Lejeune veterans and families, protecting them from predatory practices that would unfairly reduce their settlements,” said Ryan Gallucci, VFW Deputy Executive Director. “Mr. Bost’s common-sense legislation seeks bring attorney fees for Camp LeJeune Justice Act lawsuits in line with the long-standing Federal Tort Claims Act standard. This would ensure that lawyers cannot line their pockets with money that advocates like the VFW and Congressman Bost intended to help those who have suffered from exposure to toxic water.”
“Veterans and their families who were exposed to toxic contaminated water at Camp Lejeune have long suffered the realities of life-threatening medical conditions and the death of loved ones. With the passage of the Camp Lejeune Justice Act, as a provision in the SFC Heath Robinson Honoring our PACT Act, veterans and their families were finally able to pursue legal action against the government only to be bombarded by advertisements from unscrupulous law firms charging exorbitant fees. We commend Ranking Member Bost for introducing legislation that caps legal fees at a reasonable amount to ensure our veterans and their families are not taken advantage of,” said James “Jim” Troiola, American Legion National Commander.
As part of S. 3373, the Honoring Our PACT Act of 2022, the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 (CLJA) created a new federal cause of action to allow any individual, including a veteran, to sue the United States for harm allegedly caused by exposure during time in service to the contaminated water at Marine Corps Base Camp LeJeune in North Carolina from the period of August 1, 1953, to December 31, 1987. Unfortunately, the PACT Act did not include any protections for veterans and other claimants regarding the amount of fees attorneys can charge them. The Camp Lejeune Veterans and Families Protection Act would prohibit attorneys from charging veterans’ fees in excess of 25% of any judgement or settlement. This bill would apply the same attorney fee cap that is already in place for awards under the Federal Tort Claims Act to awards under the Camp Lejeune Justice Act to ensure veterans and their families who are filing suits are not wrongfully taken advantage of through predatory legal fees.
HOTLINE: Veterans and their families with questions or who want to report fraud can contact the Department of Justice through the devoted CLJA hotline (202-353-4426) and email box (CampLejeune.PACTAct@usdoj.gov).