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Hausfeld Survives Fee Challenge from NCAA

May 1, 2015 | Posted in : Fee Award, Fee Award Factors, Fee Dispute, Fee Expert / Member, Fee Request, Lodestar, NALFA News

A recent The Recorder story, “Hausfeld to Reap Hefty Fees for NCAA Suit,” reports that a federal judge has signaled he’s likely to award a large chunk of the $50 million requested by plaintiffs lawyers who prevailed in litigation against the NCAA, calling it possibly “the most significant antitrust case of the era.”  At a hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins called the groundbreaking case against the NCAA an “adventurous and risky lawsuit.”

Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP secured a ruling from U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, which granted college athletes the right to be paid for their appearances on television and as avatars in video games.  The decision will change American culture, Cousins said.  “My view is that the result is an exemplary and surprising result given the challenges they faced at the beginning of the case,” he said.

Schiff Hardin attorneys representing the NCAA have tried to cut the payout down to $8 million.  They argued plaintiffs lawyers are seeking fees for claims that fell flat, and that they padded their lodestar.

Cousins agreed that plaintiffs lawyers didn’t succeed on every issue they brought, and therefore said he is not inclined to grant multiplier that would inflate the $45 million fee request.  Cousins also acknowledged at any moment the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit could reverse the student athletes’ win and make his fee determination moot.  Lawyers for the NCAA argued their appeal last month before a three-judge panel.

NALFA learned Schiff Hardin handled this fee-challenge in-house, instead of using a qualified, outside fee expert to challenge the fee request.  “Schiff Hardin’s fee challenge, would have been more credible if it came from a fully qualified fee expert,” said Terry Jesse, Executive Director of NALFA.

NALFA also reported on this case in ‘Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Challenge Huge Fee Reduction Sought by NCAA”