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Attorney Awarded Only a Fraction of Requested Fees in City of Detroit Case

As reported earlier last month, the City of Detroit argued that attorney Norman Yatooma’s request for $735,622 in legal fees was unsupported and thus should be significantly reduced. In a decision issued by Chief United States District Court Judge Gerald Rosen, Yatooma was awarded $167,000 for his work on the Tamara Green case—only a fraction of his request.

The court concluded that Yatooma’s request for over $735,000 was excessive both as to the hourly rate sought and the number of hours and resources expended. Yatooma charged for his services at a rate of $550.00 per hour. While the court recognized that $550.00 per hour is considered “comparable to the rates charged by the most experienced and accomplished attorneys in the Detroit metropolitan area[, s]uffice it to say that, from the court’s observations in the course of this litigation, Mr. Yatooma has not yet achieved this lofty rank.”

Moreover, the court believed that the number of attorneys working on the case and the time expended was unreasonable. Judge Rosen pointed to multiple attorneys attending court hearings, drafting papers, and attending strategy conferences, where only one attorney’s attention was necessary. Furthermore, Yatooma submitted that over 2,000 hours were devoted to the discovery request, but the court concluded that no more than 600 hours should have been reasonably expended. An award of $167,000 was, however, in the court’s opinion, appropriate for the reasonable number of hours spent reviewing the city’s document production.

Yatooma plans to appeal the District Court’s decision.

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