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A man standing in front of life-size opioid pills falling like dominos.

A dozen law firms are set to earn nearly $160 million in contingency fees in 15 opioid settlements involving two counties in Ohio and the state of Oklahoma, according to Law.com’s review of the contracts at issue in those settlements and emails provided by government officials. That amount is likely to increase in light of last week’s global deal with Mallinckrodt, which was backed by 47 attorneys general from states and U.S. territories and thousands of cities and counties across the nation.

The fees come out of contingency fee contracts and are separate from common benefit fees that go to lead lawyers in the multidistrict litigation and are hampering talks over a potential $22 billion cash global settlement with several major defendants. Lead plaintiffs’ lawyers in the MDL have proposed a hold back of 7% of all opioid settlements that would compensate them for work done in the lawsuits that helped all plaintiffs, but it also would reduce the potential contingency fees that other lawyers earn through their contracts with individual clients.

In a Feb. 27 letter filed in the MDL, 30 cities and counties opposed the proposed hold back insisted there was more at stake than a “mere squabble among attorneys over fees.”

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Amanda Bronstad

Amanda Bronstad is the ALM staff reporter covering class actions and mass torts nationwide. She writes the email dispatch Critical Mass. She is based in Los Angeles.

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