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Why would the lawyer representing the woman suing Florida State and Jamis Winston for the alleged rape get paid more than the victim?


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1/29/2016
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Question: As an attorney....maybe you can explain to me how the girl that was allegedly raped by Jameis Winston gets 250K in the settlement, and her attorney gets 700K. Something doesn’t sound right to me. Steve, can you explain to me why this might be? 

Answer: There may be several explanations why it is being reported this way. I knew nothing about this case before you mentioned it. The article I read stated FS paid $250,000 to the woman and $700,000 to her lawyer. The article went on to state that may not be the actual split between attorney and client but it is the way the University wanted it paid, probably for accounting and/or tax purposes. Or even the press has it wrong to begin with. I never assume that what is printed is accurate. 

Florida State has settled a federal Title IX lawsuit with Erica Kinsman, a former student who said she was raped by quarterback Jameis Winston in 2012.

The settlement was announced on Monday, more than a year after she initially filed the complaint in federal court.

FSU agreed to pay Kinsman $950,000 – an amount that includes attorney’s fees – as well as make a five-year commitment to awareness, prevention and training programs. The lump sum is the largest settlement for Title IX claims regarding indifference to a student’s reported sexual assault. USA Today

Another reason may have to do with the suit being filed as a civil rights violation [Title IX] which allows for payment of legal fees as part of the settlement. When fees are caculated separately from the actual damages suffered each is valued as a separate matter. So let's look at how long this has being in the courts. This claim arose in 2012, four years ago, and the lawyers have been litigating for nearly four years. If their hourly rate is north of $350.00 it adds up quick and could be over $750,000. So when the University agrees to pay $250,000 plus attorney fees, the bill gets added up and this is the result. It is not unusual in civil rights cases for the legal fees to be more than the actual damages. Here is an example. What if we were being made to sit in the back of the bus on a transit owned by the state simply because we are Portuguese and Italian. What are our actual monetary losses? Not much really, just hurt feelings and a loss of a constitutional right. But the lawyers might have to fight to change the policy and that could take decades. In the end you can see why the legal fees might actually be more than what the client is being paid.

Great question, hopefully I have answered it, but ask more if necessary. Onward me march...



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