The State of New Jersey has been ordered to pay almost $1.3 million in attorneys’ fees in connection with a whistleblower lawsuit brought against it by a former state official employed in the Division of Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection.
According to The Star-Ledger, Stanley Fischer filed a lawsuit against the state after he was fired from his position as executive director in 2007. He alleged that he was wrongfully terminated for confronting a politically connected subordinate concerning workplace infractions.
Only a year after the lawsuit was filed, Fischer spent $100,000 in legal fees. A year later, he owed an additional $100,000 to his counsel, Walder, Hayden & Brogan. Late last year, Superior Court Judge Thomas R. Vena found in Fischer’s favor, awarding him $260,000 in damages and ordering reinstatement.
Recently, Judge Vena ordered the state to pay $1.29 million in attorneys’ fees to Fischer’s attorneys, which represents four years of work on the case. In support of its fee request, the firm submitted computerized billing records documenting the time Fischer’s attorneys spent working on the case. In making his determination, Judge Vena noted the “aggressive defense” asserted by the state and that Fischer’s counsel “was taking a significant risk in continuing to represent the plaintiff, now on a contingent basis, in 2009.”
The state Attorney General’s Office has not decided whether it will appeal the award.