A federal magistrate in Tulsa is recommending that the state pay $7 million in legal fees in a lawsuit that led to reforms in Oklahoma's child-welfare system.
U.S. Magistrate Frank McCarthy said Wednesday that the lawyers representing Children's Rights should receive $5.5 million in attorneys' fees and another $1.5 million in expenses and travel costs.
The plaintiffs' attorneys had sought $9.5 million, while attorneys representing the Oklahoma Department of Human Services argued that $2.6 million to $3.7 million was more appropriate.
Children's Rights Executive Director Marcia Lowry says they amassed more than 36,000 hours of work time in the four-year lawsuit, but DHS Director Ed Lake calls the $7 million recommendation "excessive."
The settlement resulted in the Pinnacle Plan, the state's $153 million plan for overhauling the foster care system.