Firms fill up on Exxon settlement

You pay peanuts you get monkeys, so they say. But if you pay $250m (£135.9m) you get Miami firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson. For a little more than $53m (£28.8m) you get Pertnoy Solowsky and Allen. The two firms represented 11,000 petrol stations in a class action suit against ExxonMobil. They claimed Exxon failed to pay discounts on petrol to offset increased credit card costs.

When the case settled for slightly more than $1bn (£54m), after dragging on for 15 years, US District Judge Alan Gold awarded around a third of the settlement to the law firms involved. In his 112-page order, Gold writes: “A casual observer, not familiar with the case, may readily conclude that the attorneys’ fees… are too high. This case, however, is unique.”

It’s unlikely to bother the bigwigs at Exxon too much. The energy behemoth revealed a profit of $36bn (£19.6bn) for 2005. Think of the solid-gold monkeys you could get for that.