Aside from Hefty Request, Law Firm’s Admission of Doing as a Favor For Good Will Was Weighted.
Mayer Brown LLP sought to recover $126,026.88 in attorney’s fees for tenants after having succeeded by default in a claim against a landlord for return of a $6,400 security deposit. (Yes, you have heard the request right.) The Manhattan judge hearing the fees motion, in a written decision and order, denied fees altogether.
Judge Nervo (who apparently was unnerved by the free request) found that a “gross amount” of time was spent on a simple matter by some attorneys billing $615 - $895 per hour. A lot of the time had to do with legal research on issues that presumptively should have been known, and drafting a complaint where a more summary summons endorsement procedure would have sufficed. Mayer Brown’s concession that it took the case to build “good will” also factored into the eventual decision. Bottom line conclusion went this way: “While the Maryland fee statute and the lodestar analysis upon which movant relies provide for reasonable compensation of tenant’s counsel in matters of this nature, the court will not countenance the gross overreaching evidenced under the facts and circumstances of this case in which the client is not even being billed for legal services. To move any court to put its imprimatur of approval on such practices is simply intolerable. Under these circumstances, this court cannot and will not award any fees.” We attach a copy of Judge Nervo’s Decision and Order.