Attorney Fees

Judge Awards $4.2M Fees in Microsoft Case, a Fraction of the Request

A judge in Wisconsin ruled this week that Microsoft owes a Minneapolis law firm $4.2 million in fees and expenses.

The underlying case involved one of the last antitrust lawsuits Microsoft was fighting, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal. The case settled in 2006, but the fee continued on.

The Business Journal reports two groups of lawyers already were paid $5 million each. A third law firm—Zelle, Hofmann, Voelbel, Mason & Gette—was seeking $22.6 million in fees. Microsoft asked the judge to award no fees to the firm, claiming the lawyers misrepresented hours, according to published reports.

While the attorneys may have made some mistakes, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Richard Sankovitz ruled that didn’t justify a denial of fees in a case that resulted in a $223.8 million settlement.

“Microsoft’s stingy approach to this fee request is inconsistent with its willingness to pay arguable exorbitant fees to other lawyers representing other plaintiff classes,” Sankovitz wrote.

Still, $22.6 million was too steep for Sankovitz.

“A fee like that might seem reasonable if all one knew about the case is that the face value of the settlement was approximately $224 million and that lawyers who take on risky cases and do well are often allowed to keep a large part of what is recovered,” the Associated Press quoted from the Sankovitz ruling.

But the settlement called for consumers impacted to receive coupons for computer equipment.

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