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Judge Approves $7.5M in Attorney Fees in Antitrust MDL

December 17, 2012 | Posted in : Fee Award

A recent Penn Record story, Judge Awards $7.5 Million in Lawyers’ Fees in Processed Egg Products Antitrust MDL,” reports that the federal judge in Philadelphia who is overseeing the Processed Egg Products Antitrust Litigation has granted a plaintiffs’ motion seeking $7.5 million in lawyers’ fees and nearly a half-million dollars in costs and expenses tied to the multi-litigation, class action litigation.  In a Nov. 9 memorandum and order, U.S. District Judge Gene E. K. Pratter, sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, awarded counsel representing the direct purchaser plaintiffs in the case $7.5 million along with accrued interest, and also awarded reimbursement of expenses in the amount of $443,944, along with accrued interest.

The plaintiffs in the litigation, director purchasers such as grocery stores, commercial food manufactures, restaurants and other food service providers, alleged a conspiracy among egg producers and trade groups to manipulate the supply of egg producers, thereby affecting the domestic prices of those goods.  The attorneys’ fees represent 30 percent of the common fund created by the settlement agreement between the direct purchaser and defendants Moark, LLC, Norco Ranch Inc. and Land O’ Lakes Inc.

Final approval of the settlement was given by the court about four months later, with the agreement providing $25 million in monetary relief to the class members, and obligating Moark to cooperate with the plaintiffs’ preparation for and prosecution of their case, the judicial memorandum states.

The judicial ruling states that the antitrust litigation has been exceedingly complex, expensive and lengthy.  The memorandum states that the court determined that lawyers with 35 different firms spent a collective 22,772.81 hours working on the litigation through Fed. 28, 2011, which was the day the court held a final fairness hearing on the Moark settlement.

“Given the complexity that necessarily accompanies consolidated antitrust litigation and the duration of the case, the Court finds that this factor favors granting the motion,” for attorneys’ fees, the judge wrote.  “The amount of time spent on this case prior to final approval of the settlement most likely reflects the complexity of Plaintiffs’ claims, not the inefficiency of their counsel.  “Presumably, the thousands of hours counsel spent working on this matter prevented those individuals from litigating other cases.” The judge continued.  “This factor thus strongly favors granting the motion for attorneys’ fees.”