District Judge Joseph F. Bianco

 

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Suspecting Medicare fraud, relator Tommasino sued defendants under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act (FCA). In 2015 the government settled the case for $106,393.30, and Tommasino received an 18 percent relator share of the proceeds. In addition to $115,807 in attorneys’ fees and $1,127.68 in costs in connection with the qui tam action, Tommasino sought $51,132.50 in fees and $4,017.67 in costs in connection with his instant fee application. The court awarded $79,953.30 in attorneys’ fees and $1,127.68 in costs for the qui tam action, and $14,422 in fees and $1,312 in costs for the fee application. The court declined to reduce attorneys’ fees in the case based on the amount of the recovery, finding that even if the disproportionality rule were not inappropriate in the FCA context, its application was unwarranted. Despite finding the hourly rates of attorneys and paralegals reasonable, and declining to reduce billings for an ultimately abandoned claim, the court found the amount of time billed in the qui tam action excessive for lodestar calculation purposes. Noting repeated use of “block billing” it also reduced the billed hours by 10 percent. The amount of time billed in the fee application was reduced by 50 percent, as being excessive.