Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. has been charged by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York with corruption and soliciting bribes. Boyland was seeking money to help pay for the attorneys who defended him on unrelated, similar charges in New York’s Southern District. The lawmaker had been acquitted of the earlier bribery charges less than two weeks ago.
The legal battle over the assets of Huguette Clark, the $400 million dollar heiress of a copper fortune, has heated up with the release of early court filings pitting the family against her attorney. The court has already raised concerns about her accountant’s and attorney’s use of the power of attorney they have had since 1996.
The Associated Press reported that an Iowa town has been ordered to pay $65,000 in legal fees after violating the state’s public records law. The fee award comes after Mayor Jeffrey Grindle refused to disclose a security video depicting a confrontation between him and resident Allen Diercks at City Hall.
A collection of legal fee articles from the past week…
Are Attorneys’ Fees in Class Actions the Right Price? (Above The Law) – Popular legal website Above the Law recently covered a panel discussion at the National Lawyers Convention of the Federalist Society. The discussion revolved around the fees for class actions, and whether attorneys pursuing class action claims are making too much. Criticism was levied against the courts for being no more than a “rubber stamp” for the high settlement legal fee payments that attorneys receive when the class benefits are comparatively small. Professor Brian Fitzpatrick argued that class actions are compensated on the appropriate level, and said his two year study found the average fee award was typically 15% of the class award. Jeffrey Jacobson of Debevoise & Plimpton also posited that settlements in class action suits that involve replacement of defective merchandise often have a lower award of damages, even though the attorneys on the case put in the same amount of time they would on any other class action. Settlement in those cases often ends up being a cheaper action for both parties.
In a recent decision coming out of a United States Bankruptcy Court in Texas, the Judge addressed the reasonableness of the plaintiff’s requested legal fees. The court considered plaintiff Darren Jackson’s inequitable behavior leading up to his bankruptcy filing as well as various unrelated costs included in his requested fees.
With MF Global’s assets being attacked on all sides, a protracted litigation battle seems likely and law firms are moving in to secure their piece of the pie. As the 8th largest bankruptcy in U.S. history, and with $600 million dollars missing from customer accounts, lawyers from multiple practice groups, including white collar defense, are attempting to get in on the action. John Pattor, a former attorney at Weil, Gotshal, & Manges and current University of Michigan professor, said that the bankruptcy assignment “will be the biggest golden egg” in this litigation. MF Global has already hired Ken Ziman, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to represent the corporation in the bankruptcy proceedings. Skadden billed about $42 million dollars in its handling of the Refco Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Since his conviction last week, Dr. Conrad Murray’s professional and financial future has looked increasingly bleak. Forbes, however, is reporting that due to the circumstances surrounding the tragedy, the doctor found guilty in the death of Michael Jackson may be able to deduct his legal fees on his taxes.
Arizona Senate Bill 1070 says, in part:
“The legislature finds that there is a compelling interest in the cooperative enforcement of federal immigration laws throughout all of Arizona. The legislature declares that the intent of this act is to make attrition through enforcement of the public policy of all state and local government agencies in Arizona. The provisions of this act are intended to work together to discourage and deter the unlawful entry and presence of aliens and economic activity by persons unlawfully present in the United States.”
A collection of Legal Fee News for the week…
Details of Fee Settlement in Segregation Case Unsealed (The Daily World) – A federal judge recently unsealed the details of a settlement agreement stemming from a school segregation lawsuit encompassing the past 40 years. Last week, the school board of St. Landy’s Parish in Louisiana approved an $800,000 settlement for attorney Marion Overton White for her 40 years of work on the case. White claimed he worked 14,316.5 hours on the case at an hourly rate of $350, leading to an over $5,000,000 fee request. He later asked the court that the amount be doubled to $10 million dollars. The initial suit, Monteilh v. St. Landy Parish School Board was settled this year with redistricting and the creation of new programs.
After losing a patent dispute case, plaintiff Checkpoint System was ordered to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs of defendants Sensormatic Electronics Corp. and All-Tag Security. U.S. District Judge Petrese B. Tucker of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania found the case to be exceptional and filed in bad faith. In such bad-faith litigation, the U.S. Code provides for the award of attorneys’ fees. Rather than contesting the reasonableness of the attorneys’ rates or the time they spent on the case, Checkpoint’s objections focused on which tasks were properly reimbursable by the company.