Friday, September 28, 2018
Judge Awards Nothing after an “Outrageously Excessive" $1 Million Fee Request
A recent Legal Intelligencer story by PJ D’Annunzio, “3rd Circ.: Judge Was Right to Award Nothing After ‘Outrageously Excessive’ $1M Fee Request,” reports that a federal appeals court has upheld the denial of a $1 million fee request by a Scranton attorney in an auto insurance case that produced a verdict almost a tenth of the requested legal compensation. In its denial, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, joining other circuit courts, also held that it is within a judge’s discretion to award no attorney fees at all, especially if the fee request is deemed “outrageously excessive.”
The ruling stems from plaintiff Bernie Clemens’ bad-faith case against New York Central Mutual Fire Insurance over its handling of his auto accident case. The claims went before a jury and ended with a $100,000 punitive damages award. The defendants had settled Clemens’ uninsured motorist claim for $25,000.
The case was handled by Mike Pisanchyn of the Pisanchyn Law Firm in Scranton. After the case was resolved, Pisanchyn asked the court to award the seven-figure fee amount. However, U.S. District Judge Malachy Mannion of the Middle District of Pennsylvania was taken aback by the sheer size of the number—so much so that he awarded Pisanchyn and his firm nothing and referred Pisanchyn for disciplinary review.
You can read more here at the National Association of Fee Analysis.