$75 Million Attorney Fee an Iowa Record?

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A judge’s approval today of a $180 million antitrust settlement by Microsoft Corp. includes $75 million in attorney fees and costs, which apparently sets an Iowa record.

Lead counsel Roxanne Conlin of Des Moines, who brought the case with Richard Hagstrom of Minneapolis, says one reason why the legal bill is so big is the number of lawyers and staff members working on the case—a total of 150 people at four different law firms, she tells the Des Moines Business Record. She said the bill breaks down into $67.2 million in legal fees and $7.8 million in costs.

Experts say the legal bill is probably the biggest ever approved in an Iowa settlement, according to the Associated Press. The news service says Conlin stated that the plaintiffs’ legal team put in 117,000 hours of work, in a case that involved 286 discovery requests, 25 million pages of documents, and three trips to the Iowa Supreme Court. At the time all this work was being done, of course, there was no guarantee of any payment, since the case had to be won before the plaintiff attorneys could collect.

As discussed in greater detail in an earlier post, the suit against Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft, claimed the computer giant’s anticompetitive conduct resulted in customers paying a higher price for the company’s software.

Under the settlement, consumers can be reimbursed up to $200, in cash, even without proof of purchase, the Business Record reports. They must file a claim by Dec. 14, and can get information about doing so on a Web site about the case. Businesses will receive vouchers that can be used to buy computer equipment.

Rich Wallis, a lawyer for Microsoft, said the company made a business decision to “put these ancient allegations behind us and focus on building the next generation of great software,” AP reports.

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