• I think that much of the reason for the high fees seems to be the litigiousness of the defendant. Even assuming a rate of $100 per hour, the fees would have exceeded four times the award to the claimant.

    I would also note that the defendant probably spent an equal amount on attorney fees. So, the litigation probably cost over $1,000,000 in attorney fees, plus employee time, plus court time, all so that the employee could be compensated less than 1/50th of that amount.

    There has to be a better, less expensive way to adjudicate these matters.

  • The way to put an end to nonsense such as this is to utilize Federal Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 68 (Offer of Judgment).

    This reverses costs and attorney’s fees should the plaintiff not get more than the offered judgment, and it makes the plaintiff think twice about rejecting a reasonable offer.

    I once had a case where my client was sued under the Fair Labor Standards Act for allegedly not paying claimed overtime. The Plaintiff in her complaint claimed that she was owed 100 hours of overtime pay at time and a half for 100 hours of overtime, whereas she claimed she was only paid straight time. Her base rate was $14/hour. Her employer fired her because she was working two jobs at the same time. She was apparently employed by the business next door and bouncing back and forth before her scheme was discovered and she was fired.

    Upon getting the lawsuit, and before answering the Complaint, I had a talk with my client of offering her the full amount she was suing for of $700 (plus a reasonable attorney’s fee to be set by the court for filing the Complaint). He didn’t want to give her a penny, but reason prevailed. The other lawyer was hoping we would fight the case, and she would be awarded some overtime pay, so he could get a few hundred thousand attorney’s fees.

    They eventually accepted the offer, and the court set the attorney’s fee for filing the Complaint at $300, since the law firm was in the business of cranking out these complaints en mass.

    The attorney was VERY unhappy about this, and he complained to the Magistrate Judge to no avail.

    • Sure. But you try to persuade your client to make an offer of judgment of $20,000 where your client thinks it is a nuisance case.

      • Was my employer, not my client, and I did it all the time Allan. Several times a day, and not always as cheaply as $20k. Oddly, some courts in this country seem hostile to Offers of Judgment, and set them aside on the flimsiest of reasons. Hell, in some courts, even the “fees by agreement or motion” language could result in another $20k or more getting tacked onto the bill… Judges are human like the rest of us, and in some jurisdictions, the court’s leanings are very evident – but defendants rarely get to choose the forum.