Can’t Buy Me Love: Appellate Attorney’s Fee Claim Whittled Down by Delaware Court

Can’t Buy Me Love: Appellate Attorney’s Fee Claim Whittled Down by Delaware Court

It's amazing what money can buy in the First State.  It can purchase one heck of a lot of advocacy in an appeals brief, without a doubt.  But that's not quite what today's case is about.  The Superior Court decision du jour is Robert Bruce v. Chrysler, C.A.No. N10A-05-013-CLS (Del. Super. June 13, 2012) and it's all about the concept of the "reasonable fee" on appeal. The claimant was successful in persuading the Court on appeal of the merits that his retirement from Chrysler was not voluntary and as such, he was not disqualified from receiving wage loss benefits. Awesome result. This matter then came back to the Court on an attorney's fee application challenged by the employer.

So what were they asking for?

$34,725.00 for 138.90 hours of work at the rate of $250.00 hour.  Permit me to point out at the front end of this discussion that the expertise of the attorney was not disputed, nor was the propriety of an hourly rate of $250.00.  The number of hours however, and the fact that paralegal and law clerk time was billed at the same rate was a "no can do" for the Court.  The Court allowed 50 hours at the $250.00 rate for a fee of $12,500.00.

This case includes worthy observation of what was permitted in other cases in terms of rates and hours billed.  Here are a few take-aways from this particular ruling:

   138.9 hours will push the envelope in terms of work being done by folks who supposedly know that they are doing;

   The rate billed by the attorney should not be the rate applied for junior staff such as paralegals and law clerks;

    Does it really take 10.5 hours to prepare a Brief Schedule? [The Court thought not]

    Does it really take 4.5 hours to review a Reply Brief? [The Court thought not]

My summer is about to come to an end as I send Sweet Caroline back to college this weekend.  By gosh, those southern schools start early.  My plan is to re-establish myself as a bloggess with renewed vigor.  The Detour & Frolic has been too slow for too long.  Sassy Cassy is back with a vengeance....LOL!!

Irreverently yours,
Cassandra Roberts

Delaware Detour & Frolic   Visit Delaware Detour & Frolic, a law blog by Cassandra Roberts

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