Jeffco Commissioners blast attorney fees on refunds

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Commissioners are blasting possible legal fees for attorneys who sued and won a lawsuit over the old occupational tax.

This week in a court hearing before DeKalb County Judge David Rains it was revealed for the first time those attorneys are seeking 35% or up to $17 million out of the almost $50 million in refunds for county workers. "We are going to be satisfied with whatever the judge awards, whatever percentage it is. Traditionally the attorneys are awarded a percentage of whatever is won by the clients," said attorney Jim McFerrin.
Jefferson County Commissioners are not happy with the fee request. "It just lays to rest all their talk about them being charitable, taking care of the people," said Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins.

"When lawyers come in here and get 17 million dollars and the taxpayers get 56 dollars. Something is wrong with that," said Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Smoot.

During the court hearing, attorneys for the county urged Judge Rains to demand a more detailed legal expense report from the plaintiff's attorneys. "When the county has attorneys, they have to submit reports, hourly reports. If there is a phone call it has to be itemized," Collins said.

The Jefferson Co. Commission has appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court over refunding up to $50 million dollars. Judge Rains says it may be premature to order attorney fees if the legal battle continues. "In this case it is up to the discretion of the court. At this stage this case may never end. We may never see anything," says McFerrin.