U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield of the Southern District of New York knocked more than three-and-a-half percentage points off the requested attorney fees in the blockbuster $2.3 billion settlement over price-fixing by banks in the foreign exchange market, but that still left the lawyers for the 15 consolidated cases with more than $300 million in approved fees.
As the court noted, the litigation involved several hundred attorneys working over the course five years, resulting in what the plaintiffs claim is the third largest antitrust class action settlement in history.
Class counsel, led by co-lead counsel from Scott + Scott and Hausfeld LLP, were already awarded $22.5 million for litigation expenses. On Thursday, Schofield granted counsel 13 percent of the settlement fund for attorney fees—which was less than the 16.51 percent sought. Schofield noted that two class members objected to the proposed fee as being “grossly excessive,” while requesting a fee of no more than 8 percent.
Schofield found that the experts presented by the plaintiffs ultimately showed that comparable settlements of such size had a regressive percentage attached to them, noting that a pair of settlements that exceeded $3 billion had the smallest fee percentages, under 10 percent.
In looking at risk, results and policy consideration, the judge also found that “nothing in the record … indicates that this case is exceptional” when compared with similar cases. Notably, Schofield pointed to government investigations and criminal prosecutions relating to price-fixing in the foreign exchange market that laid substantial groundwork ahead of the litigation.
Finally, Schofield’s cross-check against the lodestar multiplier, which she said stood at 1.72 and was “within the typical range for megafund cases.”
Scott + Scott attorney Christopher Burke and Hausfeld name attorney Michael Hausfeld led their respective teams as co-lead counsel. They declined to comment on the fee award.