Attorney Fees

Irate Judge Blasts Typos and Errors in Filing, Slashes Fees by $154K

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A federal judge in Philadelphia blasted a lawyer for his “slip-shod submissions” to the court before slashing his requested attorney fees by about $154,000.

Senior U.S. District Judge J. William Ditter Jr. said a fee petition in a civil rights suit by Brian Puricelli was riddled with typographical and other errors, the Legal Intelligencer reports. Ditter cited these misspellings: “plaintf,” “Philadehia,” “attoreys,” “reasonbale” and “Ubited States.”

Ditter also said Puricelli’s filing misquoted a federal statute, listed the wrong court rules and referred to a U.S. Supreme Court dissenting opinion as a concurring opinion, the story says. The judge said Puricelli filed an amended fee petition three days later that corrected most of the misspellings but still contained several errors, including the wrong first name for a police officer, errors in case and statute citations, missing words and “challenging” assertions. And the new version incorrectly listed the amount of damages awarded by the jury in the civil rights suit as $15,000 instead of $150,000.

Puricelli had requested more than $180,000 in fees, but he received only about $26,000. Ditter lowered the amount to $105,000 to account for claims dismissed before trial, then cut the amount by 75 percent to account for claims rejected by the jury and what he called “questionable time records, lack of candor, slip-shod submissions,” according to the story.

Puricelli told the Intelligencer that the original filing was a draft version that was accidentally uploaded to the court’s filing system. “There were mistakes, but they were caught,” he told the reporter. He labeled Ditter’s opinion a “cheap shot.”

This is the second time Puricelli’s fees were lowered because of sloppy written work, the story says. A magistrate judge in a February 2004 opinion said Puricelli was “smooth” and “artful” in the courtroom, but demonstrated “complete lack of care in his written product.”

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