A recent Law 360 story by PJ D'’Annunzio, “Attys Seek $13M Payout For Pork Antitrust Deal With Eateries” reports that attorneys representing commercial pork buyers asked for $13.2 million in fees for their role in negotiating a $42 million settlement between a group of restaurants and Smithfield Foods in multidistrict litigation over an alleged meat industry scheme to inflate prices. In a memorandum, a class of commercial and institutional indirect pork purchasers urged the court to award fees using a "percentage of the funds" calculation, in this case, 31% of the gross settlement proceeds.
"The $42 million settlement before the court is the result of extensive work done by counsel for the CIIPPs on a contingent basis," the memorandum said. "Counsel has worked for over four years and have invested thousands of hours to pursue the CIIPP claims. Counsel for the CIIPPs request an interim award of attorneys' fees for the work done to achieve this settlement." Minnesota U.S. District Judge John R. Tunheim preliminarily approved the $42 million settlement between Smithfield and the pork purchasers in an April order.
In addition to the money, Smithfield agreed to cooperate in prosecuting claims against the remaining defendants, which include big names like Tyson Foods and Hormel Foods Corp., in the large-scale litigation. The purchasers' memorandum said four years of litigation resulted in roughly 16,800 attorney hours and 2,560 hours for legal assistants and other professionals.
"Given the excellent results achieved, the complexity of the claims and defenses, the real risk of nonrecovery, the formidable defense teams, the delay in receipt of payment, and the substantial experience and skill of counsel, the requested multiplier on the lodestar and the resulting fee is reasonable compensation for the work done by counsel for the CIIPPs," the purchasers said. Additionally, the purchasers asked for an award of $7,500 to each plaintiff representative.