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Hotel Group Seeks Attorney Fee Reductions

February 7, 2020 | Posted in : Billing Practices, Billing Record / Entries, Fee Dispute Litigation / ADR, Fee Reduction / Fee Denial, Fee Request, Hourly Rates / Hourly Billing

A recent Law 360 story by Kelly Zegers, “Hotel Wants Four Seasons’ $1M Atty Fee Request Slashed,” reports that Burton Way Hotels Ltd. asked a California federal court on to slice by more than half Four Seasons Hotels Ltd.'s requested $1 million in supplemental attorney fees and interest, accusing the hotel owner of overstaffing and overcharging in an arbitration suit.  Burton Way, which owns a Four Seasons-branded hotel, said although Ontario-based Four Seasons Hotel requested fees amounting to $1.38 million including prejudgment interest, it should be awarded no more than $476,800.

It is also calling for the court to completely deny about $219,000 in prejudgment interest on an arbitration panel's award in a contract dispute in which Burton Way claimed Four Seasons breached their deal for exclusive use of the hotel brand at the Beverly Wilshire hotel.  "Some of the attorneys' fees that Four Seasons seeks to recover are patently unreasonable and unnecessary," Burton Way said.

That included staffing nine attorneys who spent more than 1,000 hours on proceedings with a narrow scope, Burton Way said.  That led to "duplicative" work that wasn't proportionate to the litigation, Burton Way said.  Additionally, Burton Way said there is no justification for Four Seasons to pay a paralegal $420 per hour, triple the rate of other courts in the district.

The hotel company also said Four Seasons sought legal fees from its post-arbitration efforts to undermine injunctive relief the arbitration panel granted Burton Way, which outlined where the Four Seasons' logo could appear at the Beverly Wilshire hotel after the panel found that the brand name was misused.  Four Seasons' pursuit of a motion to correct how the arbitration award addressed font sizes racked up more than $300,000 in fees, Burton Way said.  The requested fees also included some $19,000 for failure to comply with the court's page limits, which Burton Way said it shouldn't have to pay.