Posts Tagged ‘feeing frenzy’

Ground Zero responder litigation, cont’d

“A 9/11 law firm tried to take $866,414 in what a judge found ‘unreasonable’ and improper expenses from money meant for sick Ground Zero responders, records show.” Worby Groner Edelman & Napoli Bern had already reaped some $200 million in fees and expenses from “a $700 million mass settlement between 10,000 Ground Zero workers and the city.” [New York Post]

Related: federal judge approves $53.8 million in settlements for 82 members of Laborers Union local “which represents asbestos, lead and hazardous waste handlers in New York City, Long Island and New Jersey” and who alleged that Ground Zero cleanup, as opposed to other hazards they might have encountered on jobs, was to blame for “respiratory and digestive diseases, psychological injuries and cancer” they suffered; building owners and contractors were the defendants [Reuters] Earlier on Ground Zero responder litigation here, here, etc.

“Alabama man gets $1K in police settlement, his lawyers get $459K”

“An Alabama man who sued over being hit and kicked by police after leading them on a high-speed chase will get $1,000 in a settlement with the city of Birmingham, while his attorneys will take in $459,000, officials said Wednesday.” [Reuters/Yahoo] Readers may argue about whether this kind of outcome is fair, but note that it seems to happen more often, rather than less, in this country (with its putative “American Rule” that each side pays its own fees) than in other industrialized countries which tend more to follow “loser-pays” or “costs follow the event” fee principles. One reason for that is that the U.S. does not actually hew consistently to the so-called American Rule; across wide areas of litigation, including civil rights suits, it follows “one-way shift” principles in which prevailing plaintiffs but not prevailing defendants are entitled to fees, and whose encouragement to litigation is greater than either the American Rule or the loser-pays principle.

Related: The Pennsylvania legislature is moving to adopt a rule adopting one-way fees for some cases in which municipalities trample rights protected by the Bill of Rights’ Second Amendment, provoking peals of outrage (“dangerous,” “outrageous,” “threatens municipalities’ financial stability,” etc.) from elected officials few of whom seem to be on record objecting to one-way fee shifts when plaintiffs they like better are doing the suing. [Free Beacon]

Great moments in attorney fee requests

Judge Frank Nervo in Manhattan used phrases like “simply intolerable” and “gross overreaching” in denying Mayer Brown’s “request for more than $126,000 in attorneys’ fees in a lawsuit over a $6,400 security deposit. Judge Nervo added that the firm spent ‘a grossly unnecessary amount of time’ on simple tasks, including ‘research on the most basic and banal legal principles.'” [Clozel v. Jalisi, Above the Law]

Ethics roundup

Attorneys’ fees roundup

  • We’re worth it: lawyers in credit card case want judge to award them $720 million [Alison Frankel, Reuters] Johnson & Johnson will fight $181 million payday for private lawyers in Arkansas Risperdal case [Legal NewsLine]
  • British Columbia, Canada: “Lawyer Ordered To Pay Costs Personally For ‘Shoddy Piece Of Counsel Work’” [Erik Magraken] Ontario client questions lawyer’s fee [Law Times]
  • Sixth Circuit: attorneys fees statute not intended to cover dry cleaning and mini-blinds [Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Indiana lawmaker goes back to drawing board on loser-pays bill [Indiana Law Blog]
  • ‘Shocked’ by $3M legal fee in fatal car-crash case, judge tells lawyers to pay plaintiff lawyer $50K [ABA Journal]
  • Seth Katsuya Endo, “Should Evidence of Settlement Negotiations Affect Attorneys’ Fees Awards?” [SSRN via Legal Ethics Forum] /li>
  • In Israel, more of a discretionary loser-pays arrangement [Eisenberg et al, SSRN via @tedfrank]
  • British cabbie beats ticket, recovers only some of his legal costs. Still better than he’d do here, right? [Daily Mail]
  • Turnaround guru Wilbur Ross: current structure of bankruptcy fees encourages lawyer “hyperactivity” [Reuters]

“Fee Request Found ‘Grossly Inflated’ Denied in Entirety”

“Four law firms that submitted a “grossly inflated” $2.7 million fee request after winning $12,500 for their client should go away empty-handed, a federal judge has ruled. Eastern District Judge Joanna Seybert, sitting in Central Islip, condemned the fee application submitted by real estate investor Robert Toussie’s attorneys, including $2.65 million for Chadbourne & Parke, as ‘outrageously excessive’ and done in ‘bad faith.'” [NYLJ]

Draining of disabled and elderly persons’ estates

The San Jose Mercury-News has an investigative series. Among the highlights: “At some point, this endless wasting of Danny Reed’s trust assets must stop,” said Judge Franklin Bondonno, throwing out $30,000 in fees billed to the special needs trust of a 37-year-old brain-damaged man, and regretting that he could not reach $145,000 previously billed. The “judge — in a highly unusual gesture — implored a higher court to overturn his decision.” Among recurring problems: “fee on fee” billing in which lawyers charge fees to persons under conservatorship for the legal effort expended in defending earlier fee bills. [editorial and links to articles in the series]

July 5 roundup

  • “After drunken driver kills son, mother billed for cleanup” [Greenville News, S.C.]
  • Cities, states and school districts in California will be among losers if Sacramento lawmakers pass bill authorizing phantom damages [Capitol Weekly; more on phantom damages]
  • New from Treasury Dept.: steep exit fees for many corporations departing U.S. domicile [Future of Capitalism, TaxProf]
  • Jonathan Lee Riches is back filing his hallucinatory lawsuits again, and courts don’t care to stop him [Above the Law] More: Lowering the Bar.
  • Funny 1988 letter from Wyoming lawyer to California lawyer about fees [Letters of Note via Abnormal Use]
  • L.A. family is considering adding another valedictorian lawsuit to our annals [L.A. Times, earlier]
  • Effort to compensate Japanese nuclear accident victims is proceeding without much litigation [WaPo]