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McGuireWoods Denied Fee in $49M BAR/BRI Settlement; Conflict Cited

Posted Feb 18, 2010 8:50 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A federal judge has ruled that McGuireWoods won’t get any attorney fees in a $49 million antitrust settlement with BAR/BRI parent company West Publishing Corp.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real ruled earlier this month that the law firm is not entitled to $12 million in fees because of a conflict of interest that violated ethics rules, according to the Legal Pad blog and the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.

The problem: McGuireWoods offered incentive payments to some but not all of the class representatives. Six plaintiffs who objected to the settlement argued the sliding-scale payments gave the plaintiffs no reason to push for a higher settlement after their incentives were capped out. As a result, the interests of those plaintiffs clashed with others in the class represented by McGuireWoods.

Law Blog calls the ruling "stunning" and "a strange result."

Real ruled after the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the settlement but asked the judge to re-evaluate attorney fees.

The class action suit had claimed West Publishing Corp. conspired with Kaplan Inc. to monopolize their respective markets for test preparation courses.

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