Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Lawyers Seek $12.4 Million in Fees, Expenses

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A team of lawyers that litigated and negotiated for a multimillion settlement in the wake of a deadly fungal meningitis are asking a federal judge to approve nearly $12.5 million in fees and expenses or 8 percent of the total recovery.
In a massive filing today in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass., the panel of lawyers said the fees were justified and that all parties would be receiving less than they originally sought.
Calling the results of their efforts "quite extraordinary," the filing by lead attorney Thomas Sobol recounted the long history of the outbreak beginning with the discovery in the Fall of 2012 that a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak was spreading across the country.
The fees, if approved, will come out of a national recovery fund now estimated at $130.1 million, but could grow to an estimated $157.35 million.
The fees sought in the petition are intended for services that benefited all those seeking claims and is called a "common benefit fund." The fees are in addition to fees victims will be obligated to pay their individual attorneys.
According to the filings fees paid to individual lawyers under the proposal range from $275 to $550 an hour.
Sobol noted in the filing that it is not expected that any of the fees will be approved until near the end of the calendar year and after victims of the outbreak receive their initial payments from the national settlement fund.
Checks for individual claims have now begun to trickle in to lawyers across the country. Nashville attorney William Leader said today  his firm has now received the first check for one of its clients.
Sobol noted that an 8 percent fee already had won initial approval from U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel who has been presiding over 379 of cases stemming from the outbreak blamed on fungus laden steroids shipped from the now defunct New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Mass.
"All counsel are receiving less than their reported or allocated lodestar," the petition states, noting that original fee requests totaled $14.7 million, rather than the $12.4 million being submitted for approval.
Acknowledging that the total fund was "Insufficient to fully compensate claimants given the enormity of the wrongs committed here," Sobol acknowledged that some firms "may not be happy with our suggestions. These are compromises."
"If there is dissent it will be only by  a few firms," Sobol wrote.
Objections must be filed by Oct. 24.
According to the filing the major allocations will go to the following law firms:

Hagens Berman Sobol and Shapiro 8,645 hours
Branstetters Stranch and Jennings 3,899 hours
Crandall and Katt 1,760 hours
Janet Jenner and Suggs
Lief Cabraser Heiman and Bernstein
Lipton Law
Orland Firm LLC
Andrews and Thornton
Cohen Placiteller and Roth
Ellis and Rapacki

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