Trials & Litigation

Federal judge rebukes Apple for its conduct to court-appointed monitor, defends his $1K hourly rate

Weighing in for the first time on a long-simmering dispute between Apple Inc. and a court-appointed monitor, a federal judge in New York on Monday rebuked the company for its treatment of the monitor and defended his $1,100 billable hourly rate.

The computer Goliath had sought an order removing Goodwin Procter partner Michael Bromwich from the post, or at least eliminating him while an appeal proceeds in the antitrust case that led to his appointment by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote. Apple contended that he had exceeded his authority by “operating in an unfettered and inappropriate manner” and overcharging, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).

But Cote said during the Monday hearing that Bromwich had done nothing wrong and defended his $1,100-per-hour fee. The judge pointed out that the law firm representing Apple in the Manhattan federal court case, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, has an average hourly fee of $980, according to a National Law Journal survey that was in the news on Monday. The survey also showed the lawyer who charges the highest billable rate in the country–$1,800 per hour–is a Gibson, Dunn partner, recounts Reuters.

Cote has arranged for the parties to meet with a magistrate judge to resolve their differences over the scope of Bromwich’s work and his firm’s legal fees, and said she expects Apple to disclose to that judge how much its lead lawyer in the case, partner Theodore Boutros of Gibson, Dunn, is billing for his work, according to the two articles.

Boutros said Apple plans to appeal. The judge said she would not require the company to comply with her ruling until 48 hours after she issues a written opinion, to allow Apple time to seek a stay from a federal appeals court.

Underlying the dispute is an antitrust decision by Cote last summer that Apple colluded with publishers to increase the price of e-books. The Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Bromwich after Apple sought to prevent him from continuing to monitor the company’s compliance with Cote’s ruling in the e-books case.

See also: “Apple feuds with court-appointed BigLaw monitor over his access, firm’s 2-week $138K bill”

Bloomberg: “Apple E-Book Monitor Interviews Ruled Appropriate by U.S. Judge”

DealBook (New York Times): “Secretive Apple Squirms in Gaze of U.S. Monitor”

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