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The Nevada Independent

Uber-backed proposal seeks 20% cap on attorney fees in civil cases

Supporters said it is necessary to reduce payouts for “billboard attorneys” and increase rewards for plaintiffs.
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
CourtsCriminal JusticeState Government

A newly formed political action committee backed by Uber and a handful of Nevada business groups is proposing a ballot question that would cap how much Nevada attorneys can charge in fees for civil cases.

Nevadans for Fair Recovery filed the petition with the secretary of state’s office on Monday to cap attorney fees at 20 percent of all settlements and awards in civil cases beginning in 2027. The initiative would not place a limit on how much money plaintiffs can recover from lawsuits. 

The group said the effort is necessary to lower payouts for “billboard attorneys” who spend millions of dollars on advertising and to reduce the number of “frivolous lawsuits.”

“If someone is injured in an accident and needs money they shouldn’t have to hand over 40 [percent,] 50 [percent] of everything they receive from a judgment or settlement to a lawyer who makes millions of dollars a year,” a spokesperson said.

In addition to Uber, the effort is backed by the Retail Association of Nevada and the Nevada Trucking Association.

Attorney fees in civil cases are largely unregulated in Nevada, except that they must be considered reasonable, and fees in medical malpractice cases are capped at 35 percent of the total recovery. Lawyers retained by the state may take no more than 25 percent of the payout in attorney's fees.

The petition is a statutory initiative, so supporters must gather at least 102,362 signatures by Nov. 20, with at least 25,591 signatures coming from each of the state’s four congressional districts. If a sufficient number of signatures are gathered, it would go to the 2025 Legislature for approval. If the Legislature does not act on the initiative, the question would be placed on the 2026 general election ballot.

Uber said the current system hurts the pocketbooks of victims.

“At the end of the day the current system works better for lawyers than for drivers. We need reforms that protect the people actually doing the work,” Emilee Rodgers, a Nevada Uber driver, said in a statement.

The petition is likely to be opposed by Nevada trial lawyers, who play a powerful role in Nevada politics and have fought against fee caps on the grounds that it would make it more difficult for plaintiffs to get the best representation and highest awards. A group of 20 personal injury law firms has given more than $4.5 million to political candidates and committees since 2017.

In the 2022 election cycle, lawyers, law groups and legal industry-backed political action committees made more than $850,000 in campaign contributions. Citizens for Justice — the political arm of the Nevada Justice Association, a group for state trial lawyers — was responsible for around a third of that spending.

A bill in last year’s legislative session would have removed the cap on attorney fees in medical malpractice lawsuits. That bill stalled in a legislative committee, but another bill that became law imposed a blanket 35 percent fee cap in medical malpractice lawsuits. Nevada law previously had different caps depending on the recovery amount.


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