Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) are working on a compromise bill to limit the amount of money attorneys can earn when representing veterans in civil suits related to Camp LeJeune-linked illnesses, as Stars and Stripes reported.

The PACT Act passed earlier this year allows Marines who were stationed at Camp LeJeune from 1953 to 1987 to sue the federal government if toxic water made them sick. More than 14,000 claims have been filed in district court. Veterans can also file a claim with the Navy.

It’s led to an advertising blitz by attorneys.

“I don’t blame Marines for dialing these 1-800 numbers. They’re getting bombarded. They’re sick, they think they’re going to get cured,” said Sullivan, a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. “The problem right now is if a Marine calls one of these numbers, there is no limitation on what the trial lawyer representing the Marine can take on the Marine’s award, no cap on contingency fees, no cap on anything.”

Sullivan has proposed limiting attorney fees for cases filed in federal court to 10% and a 2% cap on fees for cases filed after that. Durbin said that is too low.

“You’re doing the veterans no favor by saying that they can’t pay more than 2% contingency,” Durbin said. “I’m sorry to say you won’t find a lot of good lawyers at a 2% contingency fee. That’s just the reality.”

Sullivan tried to address the issue in last week’s NDAA debate but withdrew an amendment to continue negotiating with Durbin instead.

Air Force photo of Sen. Sullivan by Senior Airman Patrick Sullivan