Lawyers in line for $66 million in legal fees in veterans disability case

Associated Press

OTTAWA - Lawyers who fought a clawback of military pensions all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada are in line for a nearly $66-million payout when a judge later this week considers a settlement agreement involving thousands of disabled veterans.

Justice Robert Barnes, of the Federal Court of Canada in Halifax, will review an $887.8-million settlement negotiated between the Harper government and roughly 7,500 ex-soldiers who are part of a class-action lawsuit launched by former army veteran Dennis Manuge.

Part of that settlement involves a request to the court to pay the legal fees of the attorneys at McInnes-Cooper, who've carried the case since its inception in 2007.

The cash would come out of the $424 million set aside for retroactive payments to veterans, who since 1976 have seen their long-term disability benefits reduced by the amount of their monthly Veterans Affairs disability pension.

Some of the veterans involved in the lawsuit are angry that fee is coming out of their pockets.

Ward Branch, one the attorneys, says the fee could have been much lower had the government chose not to drag out litigation.

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