electronista: Apple and Samsung legal fees slashed by magistrate judge
Judge: fees excessive, explanations of time spent insufficient
Magistrate Judge Paul Grewal of the US District Court of the Northern District of California ordered Samsung to pay $21,554 in legal fees to Apple, and Apple to pay $160,069 to Samsung over discovery violations in the smartphone patent suit concluded in August. Both awards are significantly less than requested by either party. Grewal took issue with both overstaffing, and “block billing” that failed to detail how attorneys spent the time they billed. Samsung’s award was based on Apple’s attempt to force the manufacturer to turn over deposition testimony.
One Quinn Emanuel associate billed 93.5 hours for “assistance with all aspects of the preparation” of Samsung’s case. Grewal seemed quizzical in regards to the claim. “How were those hours divided among the various tasks? Is it reasonable that Walker spent nearly two work weeks on a motion for sanctions when two partners, three other associates and innumerable contract attorneys were also staffed on the motion? The court can only guess at the answers to those questions because Samsung offers only the barest description of Walker’s activities,” Grewal stated in the 21-page order.
In examining 50 hours of work billed at $1,035 per hour by partner Marc Becker, Grewal wrote that “the court tends to find it unreasonable that a partner with almost 25 years of experience needed 50 hours to draft a 14-page motion and to review a 15-page reply, especially when five associates also billed 85.8 hours for the same motion.” Grewal applied rates based on a survey, and reduced the highest rate from a Quinn Emanual associate from $620 down to $470.
Grewal also ruled that Apple had requested excess fees, and shaved off 20 percent from its claim. Additionally, Grewal refused attorney fees for sealing motions, and “refuses to incentivize more sealing actions” by allowing the fees to be charged.