OCWD Tally of Legal Costs/Fees Versus Settlements.
In Teri Sforza’s December 8, 2013 article in The Orange County Register, she reports that the Orange County Water District, which was sued businesses over alleged drinking water contamination throughout the last decade, has collected about $30 million in settlements. Where did the money go? Ms. Sforza, based on an informal accounting by the OCWD, indicates that $17.7 million went to pay legal costs (like expert witnesses) and about $4.7 million to attorneys as part of their contingency fee recoveries from settlements.
U.S. District Judge White Slashes $2.54 Million Class Counsel Fee Request, Awarding $943,217 In Fees In Acer America Class Action.
In an October 21, 2013 order, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White awarded attorney’s fees, costs, and incentive awards in a class action, Wolph v. Acer America Corp., No, C 09-01314 JSW (N.D. Cal. Oct. 21, 2013, PACER Doc. No. 191). It not go as well as Plaintiffs’ class counsel had hoped.
The case involved a class action against Acer based on purportedly defective notebook computers, which was certified as a class. Three law firms represented Plaintiffs, expending 4,633.2 hours of work and seeking $2,542,246.95 in attorneys’ fees/$172,753.05 in costs. The district judge awarded much less in fees.
First, he found that claimed hours of work were exorbitant and not sufficiently detailed by task, reducing each attorney’s hours by 62%. Second, the requesting attorneys did not demonstrate their hourly rates were reasonable because they presented no proof on rates for Northern District of California litigators of comparable experience. (The judge did find these hourly rates reasonable: $550 for senior partners, $500 for partners, $400 for senior associates, $350 for associates, and $175 for paralegals.) Third, a negative multiplier was actually justified here in order to make the fee recovery 33% of the recovery under the widely-used federal percentage-of-the-benefit analysis.
Most of the requested expenses were found reasonable, and a $2,000 incentive award was made to the two class representatives.