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Category: Fee Recommendation

Judge Reduces Hourly Rates Citing Lack of Evidence

December 21, 2021

A recent Law 360 story by Nathan Hale, Judge Backs $30K in Fees for Alan Parsons’ Contempt Effort,” reports that a Florida federal magistrate recommended trimming an attorney's fee request from Grammy Award–winning music veteran Alan Parsons to just under $30,000 to cover costs he incurred obtaining a civil contempt finding against his former promoter in a trademark infringement lawsuit.

In a report and recommendation, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie R. Hoffman approved of most of the request filed by lawyers from three firms that worked on Parsons' claim that defendants John Regna and World Entertainment Associates of America Inc. violated a preliminary injunction in the case, but she said two out-of-state attorneys failed to support the nearly four-figure hourly rates they submitted.  "[N]o further information about these attorneys' experience or expertise is discussed, and plaintiffs submit no further evidence suggesting that the hourly rates sought for these attorneys are reasonable," she said.

Despite a lack of objection from the defense, Judge Hoffman recommended the court calculate the fees award for Jeff Goldman and Rod S. Berman of California-based Jeffer Mangels Butler & Marmaro LLP at a rate of $375 an hour — equal to what another attorney requested and what courts in the Middle District of Florida have granted in similar cases — rather than the $945 per hour and $995 per hour that they had respectively requested. 

She recommended to U.S. District Judge Roy B. Dalton Jr. that he award the full amounts of $24,030.50 requested by attorneys from O'Connell & Crispin Ackal PLLC and $5,137.50 requested by attorney Brian P. Deeb, whose fee was specifically cited by Judge Hoffman.  And she recommended the court reimburse Goldman and Berman $825 for the 2.2 hours of work they said they contributed, instead of the $2,109 they requested.

Class Counsel Earn $9.4M in Attorney Fees in Securities Action

December 8, 2021

A recent Law360 story by Clark Mindock, “Quinn Emanuel, Others Get $9.4M Atty Fee in Securities Suit,” reports that a Delaware federal judge has awarded $9.4 million in attorney fees to Quinn Emanuel and others representing energy management software company C3 Inc. in a shareholder suit alleging fraud in a stock-swap deal, trimming an originally requested amount.  U.S. District Judge Colm Connolly awarded the attorney fees after receiving recommendations from a special master overseeing the case who found just two out of five arguments raised by the investors against the award had merit.

The judge agreed with the special master that it was appropriate to trim $1 million from the original $10.1 million requested since the award for attorney fees shouldn't include fees related to litigated holdback claims.  Judge Connolly also determined that a further reduction of 3% was appropriate after the special master suggested the court consider whether block billing and redactions in the request were indicative of potential bad faith.  "I agree that defendants' block billing could obscure bad-faith expenditures related to the holdback claim," Judge Connolly said, before adding he was exercising his discretion to reduce the fee beyond the $1 million by 3%.

The C3 firms sought the fees after fending off a suit brought by investors accusing the company of securities fraud and breach of contract.  Seeking reimbursement for the attorney work, C3 said its lead counsel Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP billed 11,197 hours over five years, accounting for $9.7 million in fees.  Four other firms — Cooley LLP, Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell LLP, Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP and Parkowski Guerke & Swayze PA — accounted for another $400,000, they said.

In March, Judge Connolly rejected an initial attorney fee bid for the $10.1 million, saying an outside observer may need to review the matter.  He then punted the case to the special master who made the recommendations that have now been accepted by the court.

The Nation’s Top Attorney Fee Experts of 2021

September 5, 2021

NALFA, a non-profit group, is building a worldwide network of attorney fee expertise. Our network includes members, faculty, and fellows with expertise on reasonable attorney fees.  We help organize and recognize qualified attorney fee experts from across the U.S. and around the globe.  Our attorney fee experts also include court adjuncts such as bankruptcy fee examiners, special fee masters, and fee dispute neutrals.

Every year, we announce the nation's top attorney fee experts.  Attorney fee experts are retained by fee-seeking or fee-challenging parties in litigation to independently prove outside attorney fees and expenses in court or arbitration.  The following NALFA profile quotes are based on bio, CV, case summaries and case materials submitted to and verified by us.  Here are the nation's top attorney fee experts of 2021:

"The Nation's Top Attorney Fee Expert"
John D. O'Connor
O'Connor & Associates
San Francisco, CA
 
"Over 30 Years of Legal Fee Audit Expertise"
Andre E. Jardini
KPC Legal Audit Services, Inc.
Glendale, CA

"The Nation's Top Bankruptcy Fee Examiner"
Robert M. Fishman
Cozen O'Connor
Chicago, IL

"Widely Respected as an Attorney Fee Expert"
Elise S. Frejka
Frejka PLLC
New York, NY
 
"Experienced on Analyzing Fees, Billing Entries for Fee Awards"
Robert L. Kaufman
Woodruff Spradlin & Smart
Costa Mesa, CA

"Highly Skilled on a Range of Fee and Billing Issues"
Daniel M. White
White Amundson APC
San Diego, CA
 
"Excellent at Communicating Her Fee Analysis to Juries, Triers of Facts, and Clients"
Jacqueline S. Vinaccia
Vanst Law LLP
San Diego, CA

"Total Mastery in Resolving Complex Attorney Fee Disputes"
Peter K. Rosen
JAMS
Los Angeles, CA
 
"Understands Fees, Funding, and Billing Issues in Cross Border Matters"
Glenn Newberry
Eversheds Sutherland
London, UK

"Nation's Top Scholar on Attorney Fees in Class Actions"
Brian T. Fitzpatrick
Vanderbilt Law School
Nashville, TN
 
"Great Leader in Analyzing Legal Bills for Insurers"
Richard Zujac
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Philadelphia, PA

AIG Unit Denied Attorney Fees in $7.2M Coverage Win

August 6, 2021

A recent Law 360 story by Ben Zigterman, “AIG Unit Denied Fees Following $7.2M Coverage Win”, reports that an AIG subsidiary has lost its New York federal court bid to have its reinsurer pay more than $300,000 in attorney fees, following a ruling last year that the reinsurer must cover $7.2 million of a $20 million payment to Dole Food Co. to settle pollution claims.  The Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania had sought the fees from London-based reinsurer Equitas Insurance Ltd. under English law, but U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation that the fees are not permitted by New York law.

On U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave's recommendation last month, ICSOP said it wouldn't object in an effort to speed up Equitas' appeal of the $7.2 million judgment, which is now up to $8.4 million with prejudgment interest.  After ICSOP covered the $20 million settlement of claims over lingering petrochemical pollution at a Dole subsidiary's housing development in California, it asked Equitas to pay $7.2 million of that under two reinsurance policies it had with Equitas.  Judge Swain upheld that request last year under English law.

Because the case was decided under English law, ICSOP asked the court to also apply it to the insurer's attorney fees of about $348,000, as British courts generally require the losing party to pay them, according to the insurer's motion.  ICSOP also said that its attorney fees were "eminently reasonable" compared to the total judgment and that it paid discounted hourly rates of $566.40 and $380 to the two attorneys working on the case.

But while the reinsurance policies were interpreted under English law, Judge Cave found that the question of attorney fees is a procedural matter that should be interpreted under the procedures of the court where the suit was filed.  Under New York law, losing parties in a lawsuit don't pay attorney fees unless a law or contract states otherwise, which was not the case with these reinsurance policies, she said.

"While it may have been predictable that, because the reinsurance policies were sold in the London market, English law would govern their interpretation, the reinsurance policies do not dictate that litigation be brought in an English court, contain a fee-shifting provision, or provide that the English Rule would apply in a United States court in which the parties chose to litigate," Judge Cave wrote.

Judge Alsup Accepts Fee Recommendation from Former Alsup Clerk

July 27, 2021

A recent Law 360 story by Dave Simpson, “Alsup OKs $5.9M From Finjan, Slams Kramer Levin Attys,” reports that Finjan Inc. must foot a $5.9 million portion of Juniper Networks' legal bill but doesn't deserve sanctions, U.S. District Judge William Alsup ruled, while noting that "in no way" does his order vindicate three Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP partners who represented Finjan in the patent infringement suit.  Judge Alsup adopted in its entirety the May recommendation from special master Matthew Borden of Braunhagey & Borden LLP, rejecting Finjan's bid to nix the fees and Juniper's bid to score sanctions against the patent-licensing company.  Borden had recommended that Finjan pay the networking infrastructure provider nearly $6 million in reasonable fees for work done that culminated in winning two summary judgment motions, defeating a summary judgment motion and prevailing in a five-day jury trial.

In addition to agreeing with Borden's recommendation, Judge Alsup singled out for criticism three Kramer Levin partners who'd previously represented Finjan in the case.  "In no way does this order vindicate attorneys James R. Hannah, Lisa Kobialka, and Paul J. Andre," the judge wrote.  "Their conduct was improper and frustrated the fairness of the proceedings.  Judges in the future should take this into account when dealing with them in future cases."

Juniper had argued that Finjan deserved sanctions for, among other things, flip-flopping on its patent infringement theory in an attempt to artificially boost damages, presenting its facts-only damages theory to the jury after its damages expert was excluded, and misrepresenting a previous court decision to the court.  "Finjan's misrepresentation of a district court decision was 'reckless' but, even if a finding of recklessness alone satisfies the ... standard, this order finds that act, by itself, would not warrant sanctions," Judge Alsup said.

Special fee master Borden's May report came after Judge Alsup in January ordered Finjan to pay a portion of Juniper's legal fees.  He said Finjan "flip-flopped" on the eve of trial when it sought to put forth a new infringement theory for one of its malware-detection patents after realizing its original one only covered a small part of Juniper's revenue.  "Finjan tried to sneak this theory in with its expert-damages report, but we caught it, and the Daubert order excluded that trick," Judge Alsup said in January.

Finjan, which sued Juniper in 2017 alleging it infringed nine patents covering technologies for storing and downloading security data, tried to claim $142 million in damages after Juniper provided evidence in discovery that, at most, it would owe less than $1.8 million if a jury found its products infringed the remaining patent in the case.  After the Federal Circuit affirmed Juniper's jury win on the only patent claim that had survived to trial, the company asked Judge Alsup to grant it attorney fees for fighting the nine patent claims.

At a hearing on Juniper's bid for attorney fees in January, Finjan pointed to its expert testimony, but Judge Alsup lamented the "standard patent BS by bought-and-paid-for experts." Finjan pushed back, saying it had a good-faith belief it wasn't altering its damages theory.  Judge Alsup appointed Borden, his former law clerk, to sort out the fee dispute and instructed Juniper to resubmit billing records distinguishing between time spent by its attorneys on the patents and time spent on other facets of the litigation.