Federal Judge Reduces Apple’s Attorney Fees for Excessive Block Billed Time Entries and First Class Airfare in Apple v. Samsung Case

Posted on July 16th, 2014 by Legal Fee Advisors

In late June, 2014 a California District Court Judge, assessing an attorney fees request by Apple’s counsel in the ongoing litigation against Samsung, slashed objectionable time entries by 20% and discounted expenses associated with first class airfare and other travel.[1] The attorney fees at issue in the case arose from the Court’s January order awarding sanctions to Apple (and Nokia), upon finding that Samsung and their counsel- Quinn Emmanuel- had revealed confidential patent licensing information.[2]

While the Magistrate Judge rejected most of Quinn Emmanuel’s arguments challenging the fees sought, including the claim that Nokia used a “scorched earth” litigation strategy and overstaffed the case, certain fees and expenses requested were denied.[3] For example, the Judge found that the $11,225.15 requested by Apple’s attorney for first class airfare was excessive, and awarded only $3,367.55, or 30%.[4] Nokia was awarded only $9,436.80 of its requested $31,456.[5]  Further, all expenses for travel to Korea were disallowed, as Nokia’s counsel could not justify their decision to make the trip, given their awareness that they would not be permitted within the premises of a review taking place there.[6]

The judge also reduced 19 time entries by 20%, for block-billed tasks, each 10 hours or more, submitted by Apple for time spent “ ‘drafting,’ ‘preparing’ ‘revising’ or paying ‘attention to’ various briefs.”[7] Each of the time entries was listed within the opinion.[8] They include one entry for almost 17 hours spent by an attorney drafting and revising a supplemental brief and 15 hours spent by another attorney revising what appears to be the same brief.[9]

While the reductions were only imposed on the “troublesome” entries identified by the Court[10], the Judge acknowledged that the invoices were much improved over the previously submitted billings by Apple, which required more severe reductions.[11] However, the case illustrates that billing more than 10 hours a day for inadequately described and/or block billed tasks will result in across-the-board deductions.[12] Attorneys should be careful to allocate reasonable amounts of time to the preparation of court documents and filings, and in circumstances where long days are incurred, all tasks should be broken down into detailed time entries.[13]

E. Bibelnieks

Legal Fee Advisors © 2014

[1] Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., 511CV01846LHKPSG, 2014 WL 2854994 (N.D. Cal. June 20, 2014).

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Apple and Nokia still recovered close to 2 million total in attorney fees. Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.


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