Lawyers in line for $66M in veterans disability case
Lawyers who fought a clawback of military pensions all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada are in line for a $66-million payout when a judge considers a settlement agreement for thousands of disabled veterans later this week.
Justice Robert Barnes of the Federal Court of Canada in Halifax will review an $887.8-million settlement negotiated between Stephen Harper's Conservative government and roughly 7,500 ex-soldiers who are part of a class-action lawsuit launched by former army veteran Dennis Manuge of Nova Scoita.
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.
Barnes will also have to sign off on the legal fees.
The cash would come out of the $424 million dollars set aside for retroactive payments to veterans.
Since 1976, they have seen their long-term disability benefits reduced by the amount of their monthly Veterans Affairs disability pension.
Ward Branch, one the attorneys, said it was the government that chose to drag out litigation.
Some of the veterans involved in the lawsuit are angry the fee is coming out of their pockets.
A spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay calls the fees "grossly excessive."
Documents tabled in Parliament show the Conservative government spent $750,462 in legal fees fighting veterans over the clawback of military pensions.
The two-day hearing begins on Thursday.