After Bayer agreed to pay nearly $10 billion in settlements over Monsanto’s Roundup pesticide, the lead lawyers who spent five years on the litigation wanted to get paid. So, they asked for 8.25% from all the other lawyers with Roundup cases who benefited, an amount totaling about $800 million.

What they got, instead, was an earful from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria. In a June 21 order, he not only slashed their fees substantially but sent shock waves throughout the mass tort world when he questioned the use of common benefit fees in multidistrict litigation, a compensation system he called “totally out of control.” For decades, common benefit fees have been used in multidistrict litigation to compensate lead counsel for costs and fees associated with discovery, trials and settlement.

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