A Delaware Superior Court judge has awarded Drinker Biddle & Reath $41,000 in attorney fees for recovering $1 million on behalf of its clients in a breach of contract case against Texas-based machining services firm Integra Services Technologies Inc.
The ruling from Judge Paul R. Wallace resolved a $6,000 difference between both sides as to how much Drinker Biddle attorneys Todd C. Schiltz and Stephen S. Herst were owed for successfully litigating the case. In February, Wallace granted the plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings, and ordered Integra to pay Dean Bellmoff and Beatrice Salazar the remaining balance on two promissory notes, which originally came due in August 2017.
In the months that followed, however, the parties failed to reach an agreement on reasonable attorney fees, leaving the issue up to Wallace to decide.
Bellmoff and Salazar, who each formerly owned a 25 percent stake in Integra, had argued they were entitled to $41,000 to pay Schiltz and Herst for the 68 total hours they had worked on the case. Integra and its Hogan McDaniel attorneys countered that the request was excessive in comparison to its own legal costs of roughly $32,000, and asked the court to approve no more than $35,000 to its opponents.
On June 22, Wallace said the discrepancy stemmed from an 11-hour gap in the time each legal team spent working on the case, and he cited to Delaware’s so-called “pizza principle,” which holds that “it is more time consuming to clean up the pizza thrown at the wall than it is to throw it.”
“No doubt, Bellmoff and Salazar’s counsel had to spend time cleaning up Integra’s thrown pizza: reviewing and responding to each of the affirmative defenses Integra chucked in to the litigation,” he wrote in an eight-page memorandum opinion and order.
In his ruling, Wallace refused to conduct an hour-by-hour accounting of Drinker Biddle’s work, but said the request from Bellmoff and Salazar was reasonable in light of the services rendered throughout the eight-month case.
“In sum, their counsel successfully secured a million-dollar award and charged less than 5 percent of that sum to do so,” Wallace wrote. “Not bad. Certainly not unreasonable.”
Schiltz, a partner in Drinker Biddle’s Wilmington office, did not return a call Monday afternoon seeking comment on the case. Attorneys for Integra were not immediately available to comment.
Integra was represented by Ronald R. Rossi of Kasowitz Benson Torres in New York and Garvan F. McDaniel of Hogan McDaniel in Wilmington.
The case was captioned Bellmoff v. Integra Services Technologies.