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21 Percent Fee Request in Doubt in Namenda Class Settlement

May 27, 2020 | Posted in : Billing Record / Entries, Class Action / MDL, Contingency Fees / POF, Fee Award Factors, Fee Request, Lodestar / Multiplier

A recent Law 360 story by Frank Runyeon, “$750M Namenda Deal OK’d But 21% Atty Fee Request in Doubt” reports that a Manhattan federal judge approved a landmark $750 million settlement over allegations that an Allergan PLC subsidiary thwarted generic competition for its Alzheimer's drug Namenda, but cast doubt on awarding $157 million in attorney fees, calling the figure "astronomically large."  During a teleconference fairness hearing, U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon swiftly approved the settlement, which compensates wholesalers that accused Allergan and its Forest Laboratories LLC unit of anti-competitive conduct to keep generic versions of Namenda off pharmacy shelves.  The deal is one of the largest ever by a single drugmaker in an antitrust case.

But the judge quickly pivoted to criticize the payout for attorneys representing the class.  "With no disrespect meant about the quality of the work that went into this prosecution, I am a little nonplussed at the notion of awarding 21% of this settlement in attorneys fees," Judge McMahon said.  "It is an astronomically large number," the judge added.  "It is over four times lodestar, and, at these numbers, bears little resemblance to the work that's been done."

Judge McMahon said she had "some concern about duplication because of some things that I have seen in the record, and so before I reach a final decision on attorneys fees I want to take a look at time records."

Class counsel Bruce Gerstein said he would send over the records "expeditiously," but asked the judge to consider that the class members are "sophisticated" corporations who had agreed to the fees.  Attorneys had initially sought a third of the $750 million settlement, but dialed down their requested share following objections from wholesalers.

Judge McMahon said she would deal with the motion for attorney fees quickly, as soon as she could review the documents.  She noted that the allocation plan for distributing the fees was approved, and that the attorneys' $5.8 million in expenses would likely be approved in the forthcoming decision.