A recent Reuters story by Mike Scarcella, “Plaintiffs Law Firms Seek $20 mln in Legal Fees From ATM Antitrust Case” reports that three plaintiffs' law firms have asked a federal judge to award more than $20 million in legal fees as part of a $66 million antitrust settlement with banks accused of participating in a scheme to fix ATM charges. The class attorneys representing ATM operators and consumers said in a petition for fees on Feb. 25 they had invested more than 30,500 hours in the case since 2011, when it was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
A judge last year approved a settlement with Bank of America NA, Wells Fargo & Co and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Two other co-defendants, Visa Inc and Mastercard Inc, are pressing a legal challenge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The class damages exceed $1 billion, according to the three plaintiffs' firms seeking fees: Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan and Mehri & Skalet.
The bank defendants agreed to resolve consumer claims that they overpaid certain charges levied on transactions at bank-operated ATMs. "This is not a case where plaintiffs settled quickly after filing their pleadings or relied on parallel guilty pleas," the plaintiffs' lawyers said in their fee petition.
The firms said their requested fee marked a 30% cut of the overall settlement fund and was "reasonable when compared to awards in antitrust class actions in this district." The lawyers also argued the "litigation required an atypically high amount of expert work." They pointed to a 2021 academic report showing the median antitrust fee award was 30% for settlements between $50 million and $99 million from 2009 to 2020.