A collection of Legal Fee Articles from the past week…
TVA Shelling Out Massive Legal Costs in Response to Coal Ash Spill (The Tennessean) – The Tennessee Valley Authority, the largest public utility in the state, told the Associated Press on Friday that it has spent over $10 million on outside legal costs stemming from the Kingston Plant coal ash spill. The firm of Shook, Hardy, and Bacon, based out of Knoxville, has been the recipient of these fees. Plaintiff’s attorney, Gary Davis, expressed outrage over the fees that the TVA has paid to outside counsel so far. He said, “A lot of people could have been compensated for their damages.” A judge is set to rule on the issue of negligence soon.
State Audit of MSD Releases Findings (Courier-Journal) The ongoing saga of the Metropolitan Sewer District and their legal bills has continued with the release of a state auditor’s report. The Courier-Journal has summarized the findings, which severely criticized the process that the district was using to make its choices. A few highlights from the article are listed below:
- Finding: The agency’s primary legal services contract has been with the same lawyers’ firms since 1984 while never being competitively negotiated or advertised. Recommendation: Competitively negotiate legal services contracts; separate the contract based on the type of legal services needed; analyze the need for outside legal services.
- Finding: Legal services contract is not well defined and are silent on settlement procedures and conflict-of-interest disclosures. Recommendation: Define experience requirements for billing at partner or associate rates; require prior approval for travel, meals, expert witnesses and other expenses not related to the firm’s time; require disclosure of any potential conflicts between MSD and the firm’s other clients.Define experience requirements for billing at partner or associate rates; require prior approval for travel, meals, expert witnesses and other expenses not related to the firm’s time; require disclosure of any potential conflicts between MSD and the firm’s other clients.
- Finding: MSD spent $2.1 million for co-bond counsel services with no documented justification. Recommendation: Adopt a policy to select bond counsel and a financial adviser through a competitive selection process
District Court Reduces Attorneys’ Fees by Over $50,000 Due to Block Billing (Sterling Analytics) In L.A. Printex Industries, Inc. v. William Carter Co., the defendant filed a motion for attorneys’ fees in the amount of $250,027.75. Subsequently, the court ordered that the parties meet to attempt to resolve any disputes relating to the attorneys’ fees sought by the defendant. Failing to agree on reasonable attorneys’ fees, the defendant’s attorneys submitted their billing statement to the court for a determination on the motion for attorneys’ fees. After conducting a review of the statement, the court awarded the defendant $198,888.56.