David J. Goldsmith Does So In An Article Published In The December 2017/January 2018 Practical Law—The Journal.
In the December 2017/January 2018 edition of Practical Law – The Journal (published by West), David J. Goldsmith, partner at Labaton Sucharow LLP and a plaintiff class action specialist, has written an article on class action settlement tips. Among other things, he addresses the issue of what strategies class counsel should consider when seeking an award of attorney’s fees. Here are his tips and ending comment:
- Class counsel should research the fee award decisions of the particular judge in previous class actions;
- If class attorneys believe that they have legitimate reasons to seek an award outside of a particular judge’s fee gestalt, they need to show why the settlement is unusual and why the fee request is reasonable/appropriate in the particular case;
- The fee submissions should show that requested fee requests fall within the range of fees awarded in similar cases by other courts within the relevant jurisdiction (through a nicely-designed chart) and by academic studies on class action fees outside the relevant jurisdiction (one study he found helpful is Brian T. Fitzpatrick, An Empirical Study of Class Action Settlements and Their Fee Awards, 7 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 811 (2010)); and
- “A small number of class counsel have espoused a strategy of seeking fees at the outer limits of reasonableness, on the theory that the court will never award more and can always award less. This ‘you don’t ask, you don’t get’ approach tends to draw objections and backfire with the court, and reflects badly on class counsel generally. Reasonableness is the watchword not only for courts in determining an appropriate fee award, but also for class counsel in preparing an appropriate fee petition.”
We would echo that the “reasonableness” watchword message, in our opinion, also relates to fee petitions submitted in federal and California state court cases in general.