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Weekly Wrap Up 10/14/2011

A collection of Legal Fee articles from the past week…

Hurricane’s Booster Bankruptcy Case Heats Up Over Legal Fees (Miami Herald) – Robert Shapiro, the notorious University of Miami Booster/Ponzi scheme artist, has his bankruptcy case currently involved in a struggle over legal fees. Amid accusations of misappropriation of corporate funds, the bankruptcy trustee is attempting to collect money for legal services rendered to Shapiro by former government officials Guy Lewis and Michael Tein. The trustee alleges the estate should recover funds because the legal services were provided to Shapiro the person, as opposed to Capital Investments, the bankrupt company. Other battles in the bankruptcy are over a 58 foot yacht that was used to entertain collegiate football players at the University.

IID ordered to pay legal fees, plans to appeal (Imperial Valley Press) – The Imperial Irrigation District is appealing a ruling ordering it to pay over $70,000 in legal fees to plaintiffs over an equitable distribution of water plan. Although the IID was victorious on the trial level, regulations were changed in response to the lawsuit. Accordingly, a trial judge ruled that because regulations were changed in response to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were entitled to legal fees. The amount awarded was reduced because the plaintiffs failed to settle. The IID said the ruling is suspect, and no evidence was offered that the suit effected the IID position.

General Growth’s Bankruptcy Billings Contain Large Amounts of Multiple Attorneys Charging for the Same Meetings (Sterling Analytics) – General Growth Properties is a publicly traded real estate investment trust that owns, develops and operates regional shopping centers across the United States. As a result of its $27.3 billion debt and failed attempts to bargain with creditors, General Growth filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in April 2009. Sterling Analytics Group, a legal cost consulting firm, audited some of their legal billings in the bankruptcy, totaling $511,678.07 in charges. Of these reviewed bills, Sterling Analytics found $116,212.16 in objectionable charges, representing 22.71% of the total billings.

Judge Approves $120 Million in “Old GM” Fees (Detroit News) – A Federal Judge has approved $120 million dollars in legal fees for expenses in the Old GM windup, but has placed conditions on an additional $3 million. The trustee raised objections, saying certain lawyers hiked their fees by as much as 20% in the bankruptcy proceedings. The examiner specifically singled out 10 lawyers at Weil Gotshal for raising rates, alleging they were not related to bar admission or practice date. An auditing firm spent $500,000 on the examinations, along with an additional $1.5 million dollars for the fee examiner and their attorney.

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