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Category: Class Incentive Awards

Class Counsel Earn $3.6M in Fees in CBS #MeToo Case

November 14, 2022

A recent Law 360 story by Katryna Perera, “CBS Investors Attys Get $3.6M in Moonves #MeToo Case” reports that counsel from Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP have been awarded $3.6 million for their work securing a $14.7 million settlement for a class of CBS Corp. investors who claimed the company's former CEO Les Moonves' alleged sexual misconduct tanked the broadcasting giant's shares.  U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni issued an order granting the attorney fee request along with $354,000 in litigation expenses.  However, she declined to award fees or expenses to Johnson Fistel LLP, which she noted did not appear as counsel to any plaintiff in the instant case or in a related matter.

Judge Caproni also granted a $2,250 service award to lead plaintiff, the Construction Laborers Pension Trust for Southern California, but declined to grant a request for $20,000 in legal fees for the lead plaintiff's outside counsel, which the order does not identify.  In awarding Robbins Geller $3.6 million in fees, the judge said the attorneys devoted more than 5,000 hours to the case, with a lodestar value of $4.6 million.  She also noted that class members filed no objections to the fees or expenses.

The $14.7 million settlement between the class and CBS was reached in April.  Investors argued that the deal was a "very good" one given that it represents between 7% and 9% of their estimated reasonably recoverable damages.  The investors alleged in their August 2018 suit that a statement Moonves made at the Variety Innovate Summit industry event in late 2017 kept CBS' share price artificially inflated until explosive July 2018 news reports detailed his alleged history of workplace sexual harassment.

Judge Needs More Data in $2.8M Attorney Fee Request

November 10, 2022

A recent Law 360 story by Leslie Pappas, “Chancery Oks Aerospace Co.’s Pay Suit Deal, Defers Fees” reports that a Delaware Chancery Court judge approved a settlement between aerospace parts manufacturer TransDigm Group Inc. and a stockholder who sued over excessive director pay, but postponed a decision on a requested $2.8 million attorney fee award, saying she lacked data to evaluate it.

At a bench ruling at the end of a virtual hearing, Vice Chancellor Lori W. Will told attorneys for plaintiff Matthew Sciabacucchi, represented by Farnan LLP and Levi & Korsinsky LLP, that she intended to award a fee but couldn't do it without more information.  "I don't have the full picture," she said. "I'm going to give counsel a better shot of submitting the information I'm asking for."  The attorneys had sought $2.8 million in fees and a $4,000 incentive award for the deal, which they estimated would save TransDigm $23.8 million in cash over the next four years.

Sciabacucchi sued in November 2021, claiming the company's top officers and directors were awarding themselves compensation that was 176% higher than their peers.  TransDigm's executive chairman W. Nicholas Howley and its president and CEO Kevin Stein, for example, received a "staggering" $68.1 million and $22 million respectively for the company's fiscal year ending September 2020, according to the complaint.

Vice Chancellor Will said she didn't know the net present value of the estimated $23.8 million savings, nor did she have enough information to assess the effects of reducing the strike price of the options.  "I do intend to award a fee," she said.  "This is a good settlement, and counsel should be commended for it."

Groupon Settlement Merits $4.5M in Attorney Fees

November 1, 2022

A recent Law 360 story by Katryna Perera, “Attorneys in Groupon Settlement Secure $4.5M in Feesreports that lawyers representing a class of Groupon investors will receive $4.5 million in attorney fees from a $13.5 million settlement resolving allegations that Groupon misled investors about its financial health before ending its sale of physical goods and announcing the departure of two top executives.  U.S. District Judge Matthew F. Kennelly issued an order approving class counsel's fee requests along with $250,000 in litigation costs and a $5,000 service award to lead plaintiff Fadi Rahal.  The Illinois federal judge also granted final approval to the deal.

Judge Kennelly said class counsel from Glancy Prongay & Murray LLP and Kirby McInerney LLP devoted more than 4,000 hours to the case with a lodestar value of approximately $2.9 million.  Additionally, the judge said there were significant risks with continued litigation, and that the requested fee award is consistent with similar, complex class actions.

"The stakes in the action were extremely high given, among other things, the amount of money at issue, and the large size of the settlement class," the order states.   Plaintiff's counsel conducted the litigation and achieved the settlement with skill, perseverance and diligent advocacy, and they are highly experienced in the field of securities class action litigation."  Groupon and the investor class told the court in June they had reached the deal, which represents a recovery of 9.6% of the total maximum damages potentially available to shareholders. A best-case scenario would have resulted in a $140 million recovery, Rahal said at the time.

Apple Urges Judge to Cut Fees in iPhone Class Settlement

August 26, 2022

A recent Law 360 story by Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, “Apple Urges Judge To Trim IPhone Class Atty Fees” reports that Apple Inc. has asked a New York federal judge to lower a $6.6 million fee request from attorneys who helped secure a $20 million class settlement for iPhone users over device updates, insisting that there is a lack of documentation supporting the price tag.  While attorneys from Pomerantz LLP and Bronstein Gewirtz & Grossman LLC have asked for one-third of the payout for their services, Apple wants the award shaved by $666,000 to 30% of the total settlement, or exactly $6 million. The reduction, Apple argued in a brief, would provide an additional $600,000 to the class and give each member a payment of $68.56, up from $62.94 at the current number of claims.

Apple also took aim at the plaintiff's counsel's billable hours, calling their submission "insufficient."  According to Apple's memorandum, the class's counsel failed to submit any documentation that "substantiates" the over 10,000 hours they billed for the suit that lasted more than six years.  "Class Counsel merely provide a chart listing the names of billers, their requested hourly rate, and an aggregate number of hours each worked, with no elucidation as to whom did what," the motion said.

In an Aug. 12 motion for attorney fees, the plaintiff's attorneys said the fee is warranted given the number of hours they spent working on the suit and the expenses they incurred in the process – as well as the favorable outcome they achieved.  "From the outset, class counsel understood they were embarking on a complex, expensive, and likely lengthy litigation with no guarantee of ever being compensated for the substantial investment of time and money the case would require," the attorneys wrote.

Apple also asked the court to reduce the requested $2.8 million in litigation expenses and service awards of $15,000 for each named plaintiff.  Apple contends that a reduction of the amount of the plaintiff's service award is warranted because the plaintiffs would receive an award one hundred times greater than the maximum recovery afforded to class members.  Apple also took issue with the reported costs for meals, taxis and online research, which they said were not recoverable.

Attorneys Seek $13M in Fees in Pork Antitrust Settlement

August 22, 2022

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.