Judge Moreno Awards Fee Enhancement in MBC Receivership

Remember Judge Moreno’s reaction to the requested $11 million MBC fee enhancement request?It almost caused a judicial heart attack:

“I needed a defibrillator,” he joked. “We’re talking about a lot of money.”

Well the judge must have had a nice herbal tea which settled his nerves, because on Friday he granted most of the request:

In this case, the uniqueness and complexity of the issues required lawyers with substantial skill, expertise, and tenacity, and it is undisputed that the lawyers’ excellent representation enhanced the asset pool of funds to be distributed. Under these facts, these great lawyers did make a difference, and they should be compensated at a rate higher than $2 18 or even $264 per hour.On the other hand, as the Receiver concedes, the Court wrote in WaIco Investments, Inc. v. Thenen, 975 F. Supp. 1468,1472 (S.D. Fla. 1997), that “the presence of a consistently paying client for four years, even at a reduced hourly rate, would warm the heart, let alone the pocketbook, of even the most successful securities litigator.” Therefore, the Court must consider the good results obtained as a result of the attorneys’ great work, but at a rate less than the $550 to $765 being paid by clients in the free market in South Florida.

Balancing these factors, the Court believes that $450 per hour is a reasonable rate in this case in the Southern District of Florida. At $450 per hour, the total compensation for 18,740 hours should be $8,433,000. The Receiver’s motion states that the Receiver’s lawyers have already been paid $3,876,081. Thus, the Receiver’s lawyers shall be entitled to an additional award of $4,556,919 for its work through April 2009. Moreover, because the 18,740 hours worked by the law firms do not include work past April 2009, the Court will grant attorneys’ fees for the work done after April 2009.

Seems like the right call to me.