In 2007, the City Council of Ontario approved the construction of a Wal-Mart supercenter. A lawsuit by residents who opposed the project soon followed.
Judge Donald Alvarez, of the San Bernardino County Superior Court, found the city and Wal-Mart responsible for only the portion of the lawsuit in which the residents were victorious. Cory Briggs, attorney for the residents, took the case on a contingency basis. Total billings amounted to $487,000; however, the city and Wal-Mart were found to only be responsible for $54,000
Both the city and Wal-Mart objected to Briggs’ hourly rate. His hourly rate consisted of $450 per hour, while his associates’ hourly rates consisted of $225 per hour. The city’s hourly attorney rates consisted of $435-$575 for partners, $200-$370 for associates, and $250 for paralegals. Ultimately, Judge Alvarez disagreed with the city and Wal-Mart’s objection and did not find the hourly rates to be unreasonable, as they were similar to the city’s hourly rates.