United States District Court, S.D. New York
November 15, 2004.
IN RE WORLDCOM, INC. ERISA LITIGATION. This Document Relates to: ALL ACTIONS.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DENISE COTE, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
An Opinion and Order of October 18, 2004 granted the request of
Emanuele Counsel in the WorldCom ERISA Litigation for
reimbursement of $26,529 in litigation expenses and, finding that
they had provided valuable pre-appointment legal services to the
class, permitted them to apply for "some" compensation for those
services on the condition that the request was supported by their
contemporaneous billing records. In re WorldCom, Inc. ERISA
Litig., No. 02 Civ. 4816 (DLC), 2004 WL 2338151, *11 (S.D.N.Y.
Oct. 18, 2004). Emanuele Counsel now seek reimbursement for fees
of $479,640, reflecting a multiplier of 1.26 applied to a
lodestar attorneys fee calculation of $380,667 on behalf of three
law firms: $258,352.65 for Girard Gibbs ("Girard Firm");
$82,083.50 for Stueve Siegel Helder & Woody LLP ("Stueve Firm");
and $40,229.50 for Finkelstein, Thompson & Loughran ("Finkelstein
Emanuele Counsel filed a WorldCom ERISA action in the District
Court for the District of Columbia. The work performed by
Emanuele Counsel benefitted the class in one significant way.
They obtained a court order requiring WorldCom to provide notice
to all laid-off employees who received a severance offer package that included a general release. The notice informed those
employees that lawsuits were pending against WorldCom that
challenged the validity of the release. This work, including the
negotiations with WorldCom over the wording of the notice, was
principally performed by the Girard Firm, and occurred between
July 10 and July 23. This effort was no doubt important to
employees who were confronted with the general release at a time
of enormous upheaval in their personal and financial life. The
Girard Firm will be awarded $75,000 in attorney's fees for their
efforts in obtaining the release.
The Court declines to award attorney's fees to either the
Stueve Firm or the Finkelstein Firm. The latter was local counsel
and performed little substantive work in the litigation. From
their time records, it appears that the Stueve Firm assisted in
the briefing on the notice issue, but that it played a more minor
role in that effort than the Girard Firm. The size of the project
does not appear to have required a second law firm. Since it is
difficult to isolate duplicative efforts and since inefficiencies
necessarily accompany work on a single project by more than one
firm, the award will be made to the Girard Firm alone.
There will be no further award of attorney's fees to Emanuele
Counsel. The Court has considered in particular whether there was
any significant benefit conferred on the class by Emanuele
Counsel's petition to the Judicial Panel on Multi-District
Litigation that the WorldCom ERISA litigation be consolidated in a single federal district. While Emanuele Counsel
were apparently the first to make that application, it was
inevitable that such an application would be made by plaintiffs
and defendants. In such circumstances, an award of attorney's
fees is not warranted.
The October 18 decision awarded over $26,000 in expenses to
Emanuele Counsel. Having reviewed again the request for expenses,
and analyzing that request in light of the entirety of the work
reflected on the time sheets, the award of expenses is revised as
follows. The Girard Firm is awarded for its costs for the period
July 10 to July 23, 2002. The award of costs to Emanuele Counsel
in the October 18 decision is vacated.
The Emanuele Counsel's application for an award of fees and
expenses to be paid from the WorldCom ERISA Settlement Fund is
granted to the following extent. Girard Gibbs is awarded $75,000
in attorney's fees and its expenses for the period July 10 to
July 23, 2002. The Girard Firm shall submit an order within ten
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