December 20, 2011
A recent Thomson Reuters story, “Plaintiffs Atty in So. Copper Case get $285M Fee” reports that plaintiffs’ attorneys in a shareholder suit involving Southern Copper Corp. won a blockbuster $285 million fee award from Delaware’s Chancery Court on Monday. It is believed to be the biggest fee award ever by the court, one of the busiest venues in the United States for commercial litigation.
Leo Strine, the chief judge of the Chancery Court approved the fee award for two law firms, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, LLP and Prickett Jones & Elliott. The firms had requested $428.2 million in fees. The defense attorneys for Southern Cooper and its board of directors had suggested a fee of less than $14 million. Strine said he expected the defense to appeal the award to Delaware’s Supreme Court.
The fee award ranks among the largest in securities litigation. Plaintiffs’ attorneys in lawsuits involving the collapse of Enron Corp. got $688 million in fees, while lawyers in Tyco International Ltd. litigation were awarded $492 million.
Some plaintiffs’ attorneys view Delaware as stingy in awarding attorney fees compared with some other states. At a law conference last month in New York, Strine hit back that charge, telling the gathering that good cases will be awarded by the Chancery Court.
The case is In re Southern Peru Copper Corp. Shareholders Derivative Litigation.