Catherine Shirhall

Former Attorneys Receive No Reimbursement for Unsuccessful Claims

 Posted by at 10:11 am  Court Decisions, Interesting Fee Cases, Legislation, Overbilling  Comments Off on Former Attorneys Receive No Reimbursement for Unsuccessful Claims
Jan 302017

The Court recognized Plaintiff’s former attorneys, Swick & Shapiro, P.C., billed at reasonable rates for the nature of the case and skill required in Smith v. Loundon County Pub. Sch., 2017 WL 176510 (E.D. Va. Jan. 17, 2017). However, the former attorneys failed to reduce their fees in relation to Plaintiff only prevailing on one of her three claims. The Court found the attorneys reduced arbitrary amounts from their billing simply claiming “lost claim time” with no further explanation and which only amounted to ~10 and ~22% of their total billing, respectively. In addition, the remaining time entries contained block billed and various vague entries, prompting the Court, for those reasons, to reduce the overall billed time by Swick & Shapiro by 50%. The Court next recognized the firm’s work in the case provided assistance in Plaintiff’s current counsel’s preparation, but ultimately, since Plaintiff only prevailed on one claim, it required “a substantial reduction for ‘lack of litigation success,’” and the Court took an additional 2/3 reduction. Finally, an attorney who billed for Plaintiff’s representation before the EEOC received nothing of her requested $8,400 since the Court found it troublesome the attorney billed nearly all time to the nearest hour and, based on the time sheets, it was impossible to determine how much time billed was actually expended on the one successful claim.

Big Cuts for Excessive Rates, Vague Entries, and Overbilling

 Posted by at 3:03 pm  Court Decisions, Interesting Fee Cases, Overbilling  Comments Off on Big Cuts for Excessive Rates, Vague Entries, and Overbilling
Aug 012016

The law firm of Kase & Druker lost over $35,000 in attorney fees for excessive attorney bill rates, lack of contemporaneous timekeeping, failure to provide clear time entries, billing attorney rates for ministerial tasks, and overbilling in New York Youth Club, et. al. v.
Town of Harrison, et. al., 12-CV-7534 (CS), 2016 WL 3676690 (S.D.N.Y July 6, 2016). Ms. Frome’s billed hourly rate of $450 was reduced by the Court to $375 concluding her forty one years of practice involved little work in trial level civil rights work. Co-counsel, Mr. Druker, fees were reduced from $375 to $275 as his associate level expertise was mainly in criminal defense litigation.

As to a lack of contemporaneous timekeeping, Ms. Frome submitted records claimed to have been used to re-create her billing, but Mr. Druker simply submitted to the Court his time was “so well documented that contemporaneous records [were] unnecessary.” While the Court accepted Ms. Frome’s submitted records, they were not so willing to overlook Mr. Druker’s complete lack of even an attempt to provide substantiating evidence of his billed time. His hours were reduced to 5.2 hours for his attendance at depositions which were time-stamped to evidence the time he spent in attendance.

The biggest cut to Ms. Frome’s billing was by 25% across the board for vague entries such as “Research,” and “Discovery.” Additionally, time spent preparing documents for mailing, filing motions, and assembling exhibits were cut by the Court as ministerial tasks. An additional 20 hours were reduced from Ms. Frome’s billing for excessive time spent reviewing and researching motions for someone of Ms. Frome’s experience.