A recent Bloomberg Law story by Roy Strom, “Boies Cites ‘Trench Warfare’ in $627 Million BCBS Legal Fee Bid,” reports that David Boies and Michael Hausfeld are requesting nearly $627 million in fees and another $40 million in expenses for the work a horde of lawyers did over eight years to secure a $2.7 billion antitrust settlement with Blue Cross Blue Shield. The fee could provide a much-needed boost for Boies’ law firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, which has suffered an exodus of lawyers and saw its revenue in 2020 fall nearly 40% to $250 million, according to AmLaw data.
It’s unclear how the fee would be split between the myriad lawyers who worked on the case, but Boies and Hausfeld stand to gain most having served as co-lead counsel. The fee application follows a preliminary approval in November of a settlement between the health insurer and plaintiff’s counsel. The judge in the case, R. David Procter of the Northern District of Alabama, said at the time the fees would be subject to his approval and would “receive intense scrutiny.” He also said the proposed fee, which is roughly 25% of the settlement value, is “in line with benchmarks” for the Eleventh Circuit.
“This case has been the litigation equivalent of trench warfare, engaging scores of lawyers on both sides,” wrote Boies and Hausfeld, who are co-lead counsel. The lawyers noted that from 2013 to August last year, a total of more than 434,000 hours had been spent litigating the case.
Filed in February 2012, the case alleged Blue Cross Blue Shield health plans divided up insurance markets across the country and agreed not to compete with one another across those markets. The settlement agreement includes changes to the Blue Cross business model designed to enhance the market for health insurance, including eliminating a cap on revenue that BCBS affiliates could earn selling other health insurance plans.
The motion for legal fees compared the scope of the litigation to some of the most well-known antitrust cases, including those brought against Standard Oil, American Tobacco Co., and AT&T. Those cases were investigated and brought by the U.S. government. Boies and Hausfeld noted there was no government investigation in the Blue Cross case. “This was a purely private effort to enforce the antitrust laws,” the lawyers wrote. The parties briefed over 150 discovery motions that led to 91 discovery orders, Judge Procter noted in an earlier filing. He wrote that lawyers conducted over 120 depositions and defended over 20 depositions of class representatives and experts.
The lawyers wrote in their fee application that the defendants produced more than 75 million pages that were reviewed by a team of 178 attorneys for the plaintiffs. The settlement negotiations began in 2015 and included 158 in-person and virtual meetings with mediators and 282 telephone conferences, they wrote. The lawyers also noted they went up against “a who’s who of the nation’s most experienced antitrust litigators” at a number of major law firms, including Kirkland & Ellis, Hogan Lovells, Crowell & Moring, Foley & Lardner, Shearman & Sterling, and Cravath, Swaine & Moore.