In a battle over attorney fees that has been drawn out over eight years, a federal judge took a sharp tone this week in a 79-page opinion in which he expressed the “sincere hope” that it would close the dispute.

John Peoples, a lawyer who referred a client to Howard Langer, the lead counsel in a multidistrict litigation class action case involving price-fixing among linerboard manufacturers that settled in 2004 for more than $200 million, has maintained that he was entitled to twice the $2 million fee that he was awarded at the end of the suit.

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