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Judge Mulls $113M in Fees in $454M Glumetza Antitrust Settlement

January 20, 2022 | Posted in : Contingency Fees / POF, Expenses / Costs, Fee Award, Fee Award Factors, Fee Dispute, Fee Request, Fees & Judicial Discretion, Historic / Landmark Case, Hourly Rates, Lodestar Multiplier, Practice Area: Class Action / Mass Tort / MDL, Settlement Data / Terms

A recent Law 360 story by Hannah Albarazi, “Alsup Mulls $113M Atty Fees in Glumetza Antitrst Deal,” reports that U.S. District Judge William H. Alsup said he will grant final approval to $454 million in settlements resolving direct Glumetza buyers' class claims that drugmakers plotted to delay the generic version of the blockbuster diabetes drug, but said he's still weighing attorneys' $112.8 million fee bid.  During a hearing, class counsel urged the judge to sign off on their attorney fee bid for 25% of the $453.85 million settlement fund over objections raised by direct purchaser class members McKesson Corp., AmerisourceBergen Corp. and Cardinal Health Inc., who asked the court to slash the fee award to $22.5 million.

National wholesalers McKesson, AmerisourceBergen and Cardinal Health objected to the "unprecedented" attorney fee award of $112.8 million, telling Judge Alsup that class counsel is seeking to be paid five times their regular rates.  McKesson's attorney, Steven Winick of Buchalter PC, speaking on behalf of all three objectors, told Judge Alsup that "25% is not reasonable and would lead to a windfall for class counsel."

Winick said the "enormous damages" fund in this generic drug delay case stems from the "exorbitant" increase in the price of Glumetza by defendant Bausch and its co-conspirators, but that had the class gone to trial and won, it could have been awarded treble damages of up to $2.7 billion, a far cry from the $454 million settlement fund.  The objectors instead suggested a multiplier of two, which would result in a $22.5 million reward to class counsel.

The antitrust claims were filed by a group of direct and indirect buyers in fall 2019 after the price of the diabetes medication allegedly jumped by nearly 800% in 2015 from $5.72 per pill to more than $51 apiece.

Co-class counsel, Lauren G. Barnes of Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, said the 25% fee award is the benchmark in Ninth Circuit and that the multiplier of five is not outside the range of reasonable multipliers awarded in this circuit.  Barnes also noted that the 25% take is less than the one-third bid that is often awarded in the district.  Judge Alsup said at the close of the hearing that he will allow the plaintiffs' $2.4 million in expense reimbursement and intends to grant final approval of the settlement, but said, "I don't have answer on the attorney fees