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Asbestos Defendants Seek Fees in Fraud Case

January 11, 2011 | Posted in : Billing Practices, Defense Fees / Costs, Fee Entitlement / Recoverability, Fee Request, Hourly Rates

A recent Legal News Line story, “Ill. Central Again Argues for $1M from Asbestos Lawyers” reports that Illinois Central Railroad lawyers are arguing for nearly $1 million in attorney fees in connection with a pair of Mississippi lawyers who withheld their clients’ previous involvements in an asbestos lawsuit.  Those attorneys, William Guy and Thomas Brock, have already been ordered to return $210,000 in settlements and give another $210,000 in punitive damages to Illinois Central, which filed a fraud suit against the two in November 2006.

In its brief, Illinois Central argues that its hours (5,731) are reasonable even through the law firm representing Guy and Brock worked only 2,532 hours because of time consuming discovery requests.  “While Guy and Brock were involved in the motion practice, their lawyers had no role in the tedious and labor intensive process of reviewing, redacting, and managing the hundreds of pages of privileged documents requested in Guy and Brock’s overly broad discovery requests,” the brief states.

Should U.S. District Judge David Bramlette ruled against awarding attorney fees to Illinois Central, then it will have been, so far, spend more than twice as much in fees fighting the asbestos lawyers than it recovered from the underlying lawsuit.  Illinois Central hired Forman Perry Watkins Krutz & Tardy of Jackson, Mississippi to pursue the case.  The firm, as an accounting filed in November, spent 5,731 hours on the case and charged an average of $167 per hour.  By comparison, the defendants were charged $713,549 by attorneys at Corlew Munford & Smith, according to the accounting they filed.  The firm billed 2,532 hours for an average hourly fee of $282.