November 25, 2008
Judge Disallows LexisNexis and Westlaw Expenses, Calls Services "Overhead"
In Class Lawyers Against Coke Get More Than $31.5 Million, Robin McDonald reports that U.S. District Court Judge Willis B. Hunt disallowed $93,960.67 for LexisNexis and Westlaw expenses in a $137.5 million class action securities fraud settlement. Judge Hunt explained, "This Court is of the opinion that charging separately for use of a research service is akin to charging for the use of a case law reporter. That is, the research service is a tool, much like a computer or a pen, and this Court considers the use of such a service part of a firm's overhead. ... Moreover, this Court is aware that many firms pay a flat rate to Lexis and Westlaw regardless of their usage, and class counsel cannot claim such flat rate payments as an out-of-pocket expense."
Hat tip to WisBlawg. [JH]
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The judge missed the mark on this one. Would he have preferred the attorneys to conduct their research by book only? The billable hour charges would have exceeded those of Lexis tenfold. How would the judge conduct a fifty state survey, or locate a specific phrase used in a trial brief? Not too many pens can do that!
As for his comment about "flat rate payments", doesn't he understand the concept of apportionment? Just because a firm has a flat rate doesn't mean that Westlaw is free, it is just discounted.
Posted by: Martin Korn | Nov 26, 2008 4:53:44 PM