Lawyers who represented St. Louis will get $276.5 million, plus costs

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The partners in the law firm of Dowd Bennett LLP and Blitz Bardgett & Deutsch had 276.5 million reasons to be thankful this week.

Unde the settlement agreement reached on Wednesday between the NFL and the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority, the law firms representing the plaintiffs get 35 percent of the $790 million settlement, plus their costs, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. That’s at least $276.5 million; the litigation costs (travel, deposition fees, computerized research, and even photocopies at perhaps 25 cents per page or more) will be over and above the payment of fees.

That’s a shocking amount, on the surface. But that’s how it works. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs operated on a contingency fee. As you’ve surely heard on countless TV commercials, “We don’t get paid unless we get money for you.”

The practice of contingency fees allows those who can’t afford to hire a lawyer to do so. No money is needed up front. No regular invoices get submitted. No financial obligation (other than costs, which often are waived) arises if the case goes to pot.

It’s one thing for a family with little or no means whose primary breadwinner suffered a serious injury in a car accident to hire a law firm on a contingency fee. They can’t afford to hire a lawyer. And they can’t navigate the process of claims adjusters and courtrooms and judges and juries in order to get the full amount of compensation that a skilled and experienced lawyer can get for them.

It’s different with organizational clients that have ongoing revenue streams and budgets and the ability to pay lawyer bills as they go. The St. Louis plaintiffs would have had — and should have had — a lot more in hand post-settlement if they’d understood the strength of their case, and if they’d hired a law firm to handle the case at an hourly rate, assuming the risk of being out a lot of money in fees if they’d lost.

That said, the profit incentive may have made the lawyers more determined to push and fight and scratch and claw for every last penny as they went toe to toe with Big Shield. Lawyers getting paid by the hour wouldn’t have had the same skin in the game. The same big-ass carrot dangling in their faces as they chased a multi-billion-dollar entity through the lawyers and levels of the court system for justice against an entity that believed it was above accountability.

Regardless of the precise reasons of the various St. Louis entities to opt for a contingency fee over paying by the hour with no guarantee of getting any payment from the NFL as a result of the litigation, there’s a $276.5 million question to be asked of whoever within the three entities agreed to treat this significant piece of corporate litigation like a run-of-the-mill personal injury case. Because whatever fees the law firms would have racked up over the past five years, there’s no way the total amount would have been as much as they’ll now be getting.

59 responses to “Lawyers who represented St. Louis will get $276.5 million, plus costs

  1. Wow, neither the City of St. Louis not St. Louis County employ attorneys who can handle civil litigation? Nor did they think to hire or contract someone(s) to handle this? The fact that they had to or opted to pay based on a contingency shows incredible fiscal irresponsibility. I wouldn’t trust these guys with the remaining $500 million.

  2. It’s a huge payment no doubt. But would a top notch firm agree to work at a hourly rate for 5+ years? Taking on the NFL I’d guess would require the firm to put a vast amount of their top lawyers on the case when they could be making more getting 35% from many more easier cases. Just my two cents.

  3. Yeah, I knew I chose the wrong field to work in.

    So much for the St. Louis peeps seeing any of this settlement.

  4. It’s like this in many countries. The firm employees will all get a big fat Christmas bonus. It’s like real-estate firms getting 6% the sale/listing of a house. Years back it was no big deal when houses sold for 75 to 150+k but now most are selling for 500k or more. The houses basically sell themselves but they take that 6% most time for doing very little.

  5. With so much that we all disagree with, we can all agree that getting a big chunk of change motivates way more than half of us.

  6. So say that St. Louis did hire an expensive team of lawyers for 5 years at an hourly rate. Then they don’t get a favorable ruling and the city budget is blown.

    How do you think the people of St. Louis would react when the city can’t pay for fire, police, ambulance, trash pickup, and endless other services?

  7. I also am amazed at how little the city of St Louis got. I always thought they’d get a team and a good portion of the cost for a new state of the art stadium. They should have hired you Florio.

  8. Perhaps these “contingency fee” lawyers are better than the in-house lawyers who work for the city? Seems to me that they probably are and that St. Louis leaders made a good decision.

  9. Kroenke could have paid the City of St. Louis $500M out of his pocket. I wonder what his legal bill added up to? Will any of this money help the City of St. Louis upgrade schools, hospitals, or even parking lots? Doubtful.

  10. Always a pleasure to see lawyers getting paid. Nobody more deserving than those who make their honest living trying to manipulate the justice system.

  11. Wow, what a surprise. A whole bunch of football fans get mad at an agreement that most of them agree with. Normal practice is 33%. 35% is not outlandish.

    Lest you forget, the city agreed to the settlement. The city gets $500 Million to improve the city budget. How they spend it is their decision and will, without doubt, be scrutinized (unlike the NFL & its franchises except GreenBay).

    At one point, the readers here will realize that open “corruption” (some parts of our govt, the legal industry, medical-industrial complex, etc.) is not corruption. It is all out in the open. Pay attention & listen to non-profit media.

  12. Big misstep by St Louis. Chances of a trial were minimal. It was worth it to pay millions in billable hours. The contingency play was a losing strategy

  13. As usual lawyers keep getting richer sheez did any lawyers call themselves the Hammer or any cool names?

  14. What did Yakov Smirnoff say about america? Well I am getting a bump in pay at the start of the year,thankyou social security but then I have to pickup medicare B so there’s that.

  15. And the taxpayers who funded that stadium will still be broke. Nothing changes. Rich get richer and the poor and middle class fund it.

  16. I’m sure that the lawyers went into this knowing they had a very good chance of winning. Hard to believe that they were going to gamble on a team spending 5 years just to see what happened. But I’m curious as to why the City, knowing that they were not going to get a heck of a lot of money, why they didn’t insist on a much higher settlement.

  17. The real question is not whether or not St. Louis could have paid less to their attorneys having gone the contingency fee route, but whether or not they would have gotten the same net settlement had they retained their attorneys with up front payments. I have no idea which route pays more to St. Louis or if it is a “six of one, half a dozen of the other” sort of situation.

  18. upnorthvikesfan says:
    November 26, 2021 at 5:07 pm
    I’m no lawyer, but isn’t 35% a bit high??
    ——————————–
    No that’s pretty standard on contingency cases. Also factor in what it cost the NFL for outside counsel. I would like to compare the legal fees of the two parties.

  19. So what? Sounds like jealousy on Mike’s part. That is more money than zero………..which is what STL would have got had they accepted the walkaway of the NFL. I am not an attorney but it would appear the attorneys earned the money. According to internet sources the debt owed on their stadium is $144 million which means STL can pay off the stadium debt and will net approximately $ 350 million after lawyer cost. Now, how they spend the money is a whole different story. Wisely, I would doubt.

  20. Theoretically perhaps and on paper originally perhaps. In reality I’d guess it was negotiated down when the amounts were settle on. If so this is just sensationalism to harm yourself, myself and other lawyer’s reputations. Not like that needs any assistance though.

  21. The City of St Louis will piss this settlement away and wonder what the hell happened to their windfall. The County won’t do much more, except for spending their share on keeping the city from trying to get their hands on it, and keeping the City from annexing St Louis County to have that tax base cover the city’s mismanagement

  22. One of the main lawyers associated with this lawsuit (whom was removed in October by a judge) Bob Blitz, was one of the main players in getting a stadium plan done for St. Louis, which he did, and Kroenke blew it off without even looking at it.

    Bob Blitz may have been disqualified from the case, but he made serious bank in the settlement.

  23. The St. Louis city budget for fiscal 2022 is $1.1 billion. If they end up with $500 million from the settlement, that is a pretty substantial amount.

    Most people dislike lawyers until they need one. The majority of lawyers are not rich, most work hard at what they do, and provide needed services.

  24. The one constant on PFT is posters complaining about what other people earn in salaries/fees set by the market.

    Where’s the outrage over a small committee of owners worked for years to install new ownership in LA that precludes public/local control? That ensures that taxpayers will kick in big bucks? That threatens other communities with losing their NFL franchise if they don’t give in to the “legal extortion” of demands to make improvements to or rebuild stadiums?

    The NFL effectively voided the St. Louis lease when it determined on its own that the stadium wasn’t one of the top 20 (Florio, check me on that).

    Jerry Jones lobbied for Kronke to be given the LA opportunity because of the land he controlled and his level of wealth. That ensured St. Louis would lose the Rams.

    The only evil in this fee was that the NFL and Kronke didn’t have to pay it.

  25. Good lawyers have to eat too.they have hungry mouths to feed after all.the world of high finance is a world the average fan only gets to see when they attend a game played by multi millionaires owned by multi billionaires.

  26. Becoming co-plaintiffs, it’s a thieves agreement among all the lawyers: no competition; nothing statutory about it.

  27. Question: DidGeorgia Frontiere have to pay Los Angeles when she decided to move the Rams from Los Angeles to her home city of St Louis? I thought this move was like that old James Brown song “The Big payback”.

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