Outrageous Attorney’s Fees of $153,525 Requested For Moderate Success in a Typical Landlord-Tenant Dispute Reduced to $10,000

 Posted by at 9:22 am  Court Decisions, Interesting Fee Cases, Overbilling, Uncategorized, Weekly Wrap-Up  Comments Off on Outrageous Attorney’s Fees of $153,525 Requested For Moderate Success in a Typical Landlord-Tenant Dispute Reduced to $10,000
Feb 222016
 

When a tenant sues his landlord and apartment managers for violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), moderate success at trial of a typical landlord-tenant dispute does not entitle a tenant’s attorney to $153,525 in fees.  Youssef v. Wheatley, No. B257828, 2015 WL 8037231 (Cal. Ct. App. Dec. 7, 2015).  In Yousef, a tenant alleged several causes of action against his landlord and apartment managers after a series of unfortunate events that resulted in a physical altercation between the apartment manager and tenant.  After an unsuccessful attempt by the landlord to evict the tenant based on the apartment manager’s claim that the tenant instigated the altercation, the tenant brought suit alleging violations of FEHA, conspiracy to violate his civil rights and malicious prosecution.  The tenant sought compensatory damages for his emotional distress and punitive damages based on the landlord’s and managers’ malice or oppression.  The California trial court directed verdicts for the defendants as to plaintiff’s claims of conspiracy, malicious prosecution, and punitive damages.  The jury found the defendants liable for the FEHA violations and awarded plaintiff $5,000.  Plaintiff’s attorney requested an award of $153,525 in attorney’s fees for 319.5 hours of legal work performed in this case.  The trial court awarded plaintiff’s attorney a mere $10,000 after determining that the request was excessive and unjustified based on the attorney’s limited success in this routine matter.

Continue reading »

Court Gives “Haircut” to Attorney’s Fees in Case against Motion Picture Health Plan: A Moderate Approach that is more like Hairspray than Sweeney Todd

 Posted by at 9:23 am  Court Decisions, Interesting Fee Cases, Overbilling, Weekly Wrap-Up  Comments Off on Court Gives “Haircut” to Attorney’s Fees in Case against Motion Picture Health Plan: A Moderate Approach that is more like Hairspray than Sweeney Todd
Feb 162016
 

After a successful outcome from a lawsuit claiming ERISA violations, plaintiff’s attorney sought compensation for his time and efforts devoted to the case for his client.  Dragu v. Motion Picture Indus. Health Plan for Active Participants, 2016 WL 454066 (N.D. Cal. February 5, 2016). Applying the traditional lodestar method, Attorney James Keenley requested $120,270 in fees.  The district court addressed each of the defendant’s seven objections in turn and, borrowing language from Moreno v. City of Sacramento, exercised its discretion to give “a haircut” to some of the fees (534 F. 3d 1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2008)).

Continue reading »

Amended Block Billed Entries Not Sufficient to Avoid Fee Cut

 Posted by at 10:12 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Amended Block Billed Entries Not Sufficient to Avoid Fee Cut
Feb 082016
 

In a recent opinion, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia rejected attorneys’ good faith attempts to itemize individual tasks within previously submitted block billed entriesSee Lamonaca v. Tread Corporation, No. 14-CV-00249, 2016 WL 269991 (W.D. Va. Jan. 21, 2016).  Although the attorneys attempted to correct the deficiencies to the best of their ability, the amended entries were “little more than guesses” and therefore, could not accurately represent the time spent on each discrete task.   The court ultimately reduced the fee award “to account for this inadequate documentation.”

Continue reading »

Court Halved Attorney Time for “Fees on Fees”

 Posted by at 10:07 am  Uncategorized  Comments Off on Court Halved Attorney Time for “Fees on Fees”
Feb 012016
 

In a recent case, a United States Magistrate Judge reduced an attorney’s rate by 50% with respect to work on a fee petition. See Collins v. D.C., No. 15-CV-00136 (KBJ), 2015 WL 7720464 (D.D.C. Nov. 30, 2015). In the case before the United States District Court, the plaintiff sought to recover attorney’s fees in connection with an administrative due process proceeding.  The fee application included the attorney’s time spent preparing the petition itself and reviewing billing records.

Continue reading »