Two law firms who successfully represented the city of Los Angeles got their fees trimmed last week by a judge who used basic math and words like “shockingly excessive" to make his point.
The aptly named federal Judge Gary Feess knocked $200,000 from the $660,000 Bingham McCutchen was seeking and cut out $700,000 from the $1.3 million Beveridge & Diamond was seeking, according to an order filed Wednesday.
The two firms won L.A.’s suit against Kern County over, literally, some crap. Kern had enacted laws against using "biosolid" byproducts of wastewater treatment in farming, a law that mostly affected a farm owned by the city of Los Angeles. Upon winning, L.A. passed its legal bill onto Kern County, which then complained it was excessive. Enter Judge Feess.
The legal work had been split into eight tasks, one of which was preparing a complaint on which Bingham claimed to have spent 230 hours and Beveridge claimed to have spent 500 hours.
“This works out to more than 19 40-hour weeks and more than 25 hours a page to prepare a complaint that alleged many of the same claims that the City of Los Angeles had already pursued in state court litigation over the preceding seven years,” Judge Feess wrote.
“Even assuming that the lawyers started entirely at square one, the total amount of time allegedly billed to this task is shockingly excessive and must be reduced.”
The court also cut fees for other work the two firms did in representing L.A. and ultimately Judge Feess was harsher on Beveridge, which billed 70 percent of the total hours.
“It would be inequitable to Bingham to reduce its billings by the same percentage applied to Beveridge,” he wrote.
Check out the filing (
— Niraj Chokshi