Saturday, December 8, 2007

Attorney's Fee in the Swiss Bank Litigation

Magistrate Judge James Orenstein approved a $3.1 million attorney’s fee award to NYU Professor Burt Neuborne for his work in representing the Holocaust victims in the Swiss bank litigation. Neuborne is scheduled to speak on a panel about Representation and Conflicts of Interest in Class Actions and Other Group Actions next week at the Globalization of Class Actions Conference in Oxford, England. New York Law Journal has more information on the attorney’s fee award. Here’s an excerpt:

Attorney Burt Neuborne will receive $3.1 million in fees for representing Holocaust victims in litigation that resulted in a $1.25 billion settlement with Swiss banks.

Eastern District of New York Judge Frederic Block said Thursday that Neuborne deserved the payout for work he did as lead settlement counsel in rendering post-settlement services beginning in January 1999. His previous work on behalf of those who claimed that the Swiss banks collaborated with the Nazis had been pro bono.

The decision was the latest in a series of Neuborne's application for fees, which had been vehemently opposed by attorney Robert A. Swift of Swift Kohn & Graf and others who claimed Neuborne had volunteered to perform post-settlement work for free.

Swift, who represented the class, and Samuel J. Dubbin, a Florida lawyer who filed objections to the award on behalf of 17 individual class members and the Holocaust Survivors Foundation USA, later withdrew those objections after Magistrate Judge James Orenstein issued the report and recommendation ultimately endorsed Thursday by Block.

"I'm relieved," Neuborne said Thursday. "It was an unpleasant process and I'm glad it's over."

Neuborne had set the lodestar fee $5.7 million, an amount he said represented 8,178.5 hours at a rate of $700 per hour. He then said he deemed it appropriate, in keeping with the practices of special master and the "unique nature of the litigation," to discount that fee by about 25 percent to $4.1 million.


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