U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg, Northern District of California (Jason Doiy / The Recorder)
SAN FRANCISCO ­— Lawyers who sued Apple for denying warranty coverage will receive $13.25 million in fees, a federal judge ordered Monday, rejecting Apple’s arguments that they deserve far less.
Kimberly Kralowec with The Kralowec Law Group in San Francisco, Jeffrey Fazio and Dina Micheletti of Fazio Micheletti in San Ramon, and counsel Steven Schwartz and partner Timothy Matthews of Chimicles & Tikellis in Pennsylvania, had asked for $15.9 million, or 30 percent of the $53 million settlement. But on Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg awarded the standard 25 percent used as a benchmark by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Attorneys from Cafferty Clobes Meriwether & Sprengel in Chicago, the Law Offices of Earl L. Bohachek in San Francisco, Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah in San Diego and Chavez & Gertler in Mill Valley will also see a portion of the fees.
“We think the court’s ruling is fair, but we had hoped to receive the 30 percent that we had requested,” Fazio said in an interview Tuesday. “We understand why he didn’t rule that way.”
Apple Inc. called the original fee request breathtaking, and argued plaintiffs’ lawyers shouldn’t receive more than $8.78 million.
“Apple will pay the same amount into the fund no matter how much plaintiffs are awarded but cannot sit on the sidelines and tacitly endorse such an excessive request,” wrote Morrison & Foerster partners Penelope Preovolos and George Harris in Apple’s brief. “Apple prefers that the settlement fund be spent on compensating the class members, not creating a windfall to the lawyers.”
The case was filed on behalf of iPhone and iPod purchasers alleging they were improperly denied warranty coverage because of what plaintiffs contended was a faulty liquid submersion indicator. The two sides reached a settlement in last April, before the filing of any dispositive motions and after just five depositions, facts Apple’s lawyers pointed to in arguing for lower fees.
But plaintiffs’ lawyers said the settlement is extraordinary and deserving of a 5 percentage point bump from the benchmark 25 percent. Class members will receive an average of $211 per device, slightly more than the average value of replacing the devices.
“You don’t see that very often,” Fazio said. “We essentially recovered more than what they could have recovered with 100 percent victory at trial.”
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