HOUSTON — A Texas federal judge has awarded $24 million in fees
and costs and approved a $175 million settlement for investors who
reached a deal with BP PLC.
According to a news
release, lead counsel also accused BP of downplaying the scope of
the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which 11 workers were killed and
an estimated 4.9 billion barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf
When asked if $24 million in attorney fees seemed excessive,
Melissa Landry, executive director of Louisiana Lawsuit Abuse Watch,
told the Louisiana Record, “Unfortunately, excessive
attorneys’ fees in class action cases are not new. When our courts
award excessive attorneys’ fees, public confidence in our legal
system is undermined and the integrity of the bar is jeopardized.”
The breakdown was $20.25 million was awarded in attorney fees and
$4 million in legal costs.
U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison included
in the order that, upon considering the lead counsel’s January
application, he decided to award the full amount and determined that
the request was “fair and reasonable”.
Per settlement-fund court reports on BPSecuritiesLitigation.com,
“If the settlement is approved by the court, court-appointed lead
counsel will file a motion for an award of attorneys’ fees and
expenses that will be considered at the final approval hearing. Lead
counsel will apply for an award of up to 11.57 percent of the
settlement fund, or up to $20,250,000, plus payment of expenses
incurred in connection with litigating the Action in an amount not to
exceed $5 million, to be paid from the settlement fund. These amounts
will be paid out of the settlement fund; settlement class members are
not personally liable for any such fees or expenses.”
Ellison also made two other awards — $9,587 to the comptroller
of the state of New York and $1,627 to the Ohio attorney general’s
office for costs in representing the class.
A motion was filed with the court in January asking the court for
Attorneys involved in the reimbursement include Cohen Milstein
Sellers & Toll PLLC, Berman DeValerio, Block & Leviton LLP
and Yetter Coleman LLP. They said the fee request aligns with what
they had determined at the beginning of litigation and “fairly
compensates them for 'almost seven years of hard-fought
“Our courts routinely overpay class counsel by relying on a
percentage method to calculate fees, rather than considering the
value of the legal services the attorneys actually provided in the
case,” Landry said.
The attorneys argued that the $24 million payout was justified in
light of making numerous motions for dismissal and class
certification, review of more than 1.4 million pages of documents,
defense of depositions and an appeal, and briefing of Daubert
challenges pertaining to expert testimony.
Ellison granted the deal preliminary approval in November and
rejected a proposal by 135 institutional investors to alter
settlement opt out motions.
In response to the settlement, Landry said, “This often results
in exorbitant legal fees that have no basis in reality, and it is
particularly offensive since the attorneys’ fees come at the
expense of the very class members they are supposed to represent.
This egregious practice should be stopped.”
According to the news
release, the settlement class was represented by lead counsel
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC and Berman DeValerio, while BP
was represented by Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Kirkland &