Dec 012011
 

Earlier this week, the Legal Intelligencer reported that U.S. District Court Judge Terrence F. McVerry reduced attorneys’ fees and costs by more than 50% in the case of Best Medical International, Inc. v. Accuray, Inc.

In its case against Accuray, Best Medical continuously failed to comply with local patent rules, forcing Accuray to file numerous motions. Because Best Medical took a “lackadaisical approach” to its case against Accurary, Judge McVerry allowed Accuray to submit an application for attorneys’ fees and costs associated with the motions and the fee petition.

The three attorneys and one paralegal representing Accuray submitted their fee requests to the court. The timekeepers sought reimbursement for 211 hours amounting to approximately $107,000.  The hourly rates for the attorneys ranged from $525 to $625.  The paralegal billed at an hourly rate of $295.

Best Medical argued that the hourly rates should be reduced to $200 – $365 for the attorneys and $100 for the paralegal. The court determined the Accuray failed to prove that the rates submitted by the timekeepers were consistent with the rates charged by other legal professionals in the community.  As a result, Judge McVerry was required to determine reasonable rates for each time keeper. He found that $400 per hour for the two more-experienced attorneys was reasonable, as well as $250 an hour for the senior associate and $150 an hour for the paralegal. 

Judge McVerry then determined whether the number of hours submitted by Accuray’s counsel was reasonable. He noted that Accuray failed to submit itemized billing statements, making it difficult to determine the reasonableness of the fee request.  Best Medical argued that because Accuray failed to provide any information of the tasks performed, the hours should be reduced by 35%.  After reviewing the fee request, Judge McVerry stated that the fees appeared “excessive, particularly in light of counsel’s experience and claimed hourly rates.”  McVerry found that, because two of the attorneys spent a similar number of hours on the case, there may have been a duplication of efforts or inefficiently distributed work. “The participation of three experienced attorneys in different locations likely also contributed to inefficiencies which are not fairly passed onto [Best Medical].”  Judge McVerry reduced the number of hours by 30%, awarding $43,134 in fees.  He also awarded $63 in costs.