Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
A federal judge in Manhattan has awarded $1 million in attorney fees in a class action in which the class itself will split $1.3 million of a $2.9 million settlement, or around $100 per class member. In her decision in Spann v. AOL Time Warner, 02 Civ. 8238, Southern District Judge Denise Cote said she had considered “whether an award of fees of this magnitude is justified given the limited recovery by the individual class members.” The 2002 suit had charged that the company then known as AOL Time Warner failed to annualize partial years of compensation in calculating pension benefits, thereby underpaying the company’s retirees. Though it argued that such annualization was only required under specific circumstances, the company agreed to settle the case for $2.9 million last year. Under the settlement, one-third was to go to the plaintiff’s lawyers, with another $250,000 going to costs and expenses and $300,000 for post-settlement administration. The two name plaintiffs would receive $10,000 apiece. The remainder would be divided among a class of around 10,000 members. The chief plaintiff’s lawyers were Ronald Kravitz and Kim Zeldin of Los Angeles’ Liner Yankelevitz Sunshine & Regenstreif. Judge Cote concluded that the attorney fees were warranted because, given the small individual amounts involved, the issues would not have been addressed if the plaintiff’s lawyers had not brought the class action. She also said the attorneys and plaintiffs had run a considerable risk that there would have been no award, given Time Warner’s defense that it had interpreted its annualization policy consistently for decades. Noting that the company had revised its pension plans to avoid similar litigation in the future, Cote said the lawyers had “bestowed a benefit on the plans by removing an arguable ambiguity from the governing documents.” Though the fee award represented a large percentage of the settlement, the judge pointed out that the lawyers could have claimed even more under an hourly calculation. Plaintiff’s counsel said its lawyers and paralegals billed almost 4,000 hours on the cases, time the judge said could have reasonably been billed for around $1.3 million in fees.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.