Lawyers give something back

SWANSEA -- The lawyers who represented 1,347 Swansea residents in a 2001 class-action lawsuit against D'Angelo Sandwich Shops gave $15,000 of their attorneys' fees from the suit to Joseph Case High School last week.

The 1,347 residents were among the roughly 1,900 who were immunized for hepatitis A during a fall 2001 outbreak of the disease started by a D'Angelo employee. Rarely fatal, hepatitis A is the mildest type of hepatitis infection and can be spread by food service workers who do not practice good bathroom hygiene.

A Fall River Superior Court judge awarded a $270,000 settlement to the plaintiffs in February. Each of the 1,347 residents received a $200 check, while Somerset lawyer Steve Sabra and the Marler Clark attorneys, of Seattle, received $45,000 in fees to split.

The lawyers decided to give a portion of the money back to Swansea, and along with Frank Lucca, the representative of those vaccinates in the hepatitis outbreak, decided that Case would serve as a symbol of the community.

William Marler, one of the Marler Clark lawyers, called Case High principal Joseph Santos to announce the donation last week.

"It's fun to challenge people's preconceived notions of lawyers by doing something like this," he said. "It's a positive thing for the school, and a positive thing for our profession. We have done the same in other cases."