Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, December 10, 2004

Our Clients $200,000 - Us, $2.5 Million

At least that is the request by the lawyers who represented a group of 80 Wal-Mart employees in a wage and hour class that went to trial in Oregon. Although they did recover, the net amount owed was $211,000 for the 83 workers for underpaid overtime, penalties and interest. According to the story at Worldlink, that's a modest $2,500 per worker. The claim for attorneys fees now being submitted to the Court is a little more immodest, $2.57 million dollars.

There is no question that a substantial amount of lawyer time was expended - the case featured two trials, and according to plaintiffs' counsel, 60 motions by Wal-Mart and 200 depositions. It poses a classic question - should the lawyers be rewarded based on effort, or on results? While plaintiffs' lawyers in a contingency fee mode operate on the latter basis, under a fee shifting statute like the FLSA, they often opt for the former. My guess --- the attorneys fees will exceed the amount awarded to the plaintiffs, but won't be as much as requested by plaintiffs' counsel.

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