A multimillion-dollar fee fight in a Superfund case is testing whether a firm can file a secret affidavit supporting its fee application, so as to keep its special billing practices from the eyes of competitors in the environmental bar.

Eight months after a federal judge in Newark, N.J., ordered fees shifted in U.S. v. NCH Corp., 98-5268, and gave the parties a deadline to decide on a reasonable amount, they are back in court — disputing not only the $3 million demanded but whether the fee affidavit can be sealed.