Google ordered to pay nearly $1M for discovery violations, including David Boies' $1,950 hourly fee

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A federal magistrate judge in California has ordered Google to pay more than $971,000 in attorney fees and costs for discovery violations in a lawsuit accusing the search engine company of privacy violations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen ordered Google to pay for the costs of bringing a sanctions motion in a July 15 opinion, report Reuters, Bloomberg Law and Law360.

The plaintiffs had sought more than $1 million, but van Keulen trimmed the request.

Van Keulen deducted about $22,000 sought for timekeepers billing 10 hours or less, about $20,000 for computer research and about $53,000 for time incurred for reviewing document production. The review time would have been needed even without the sanctions motion, van Keulen said.

The fee request includes the $1,950 hourly billing rate used by Boies Schiller Flexner chairman David Boies. Google’s lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan had questioned the need for Boies’ work on the sanctions motion, according to Reuters.

The sanctions are for Google’s concealment of key data and employees from the plaintiffs. The suit claims that Google wrongly collected information about internet users when they used its incognito web browsing.

Van Keulen had ruled that the discovery lapses didn’t appear to be motivated by bad faith, but they were so egregious that sanctions were required, according to Law360.

Andrew Schapiro, a partner at Quinn Emanuel, told Bloomberg Law and Reuters that the plaintiffs had sought “extreme sanctions” that would bar Google from making some arguments in court.

“At the end of the day, they are getting a partial payment of their inflated bill for the time they devoted to bringing the motion,” Schapiro said in a statement.

Boies told Bloomberg Law in a statement that the sanctions “are serious, as they should be, given Google’s serious misconduct.”

Boies said Google “failed to comply with its discovery obligations, misled the plaintiffs and the court, concealed the identities of key personnel, and concealed, and then destroyed, key documents.”

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