Congratulations to lawyers from Quinn Emanuel and their local counsel on a significant fee award coming on the heels of a jury verdict in one of some fifty lawsuits brought by a hollow husk of an undead zombie mortgage lender (going by the name of “RFC and RESCAP Liquidating Trust Act” or “RFC,” for short) against other lenders whom RFC accused of having sold it rotten loans in violation of the lenders’ agreements with RFC before the 2008 collapse of the mortgage lending business.

Check out the 64-page decision of U.S. District Court Judge Susan R. Nelson (D. Minn.). This should be required reading for any civil litigator seeking an award of attorneys’ fees in Minnesota (at a minimum).

We cannot help but notice that Judge Nelson, even with her high praise of the Plaintiff’s lawyers, could not resist giving the fee petition a haircut (see here for earlier posts on the “Minnesota haircut”).

“While the Court recognizes the tremendous talent and efforts of Quinn Emanuel’s counsel, it respectfully declines to include the [REDACTION] contingency payment in the award of attorney’s fees” (here at p. 59).

“For all of the reasons discussed earlier, the Court finds that the revised
lodestar, $18,002,732.84, constitutes reasonable attorneys’ fees. This was a contentious, long lawsuit, and this award reflects the complexity, and time-consuming nature of this case. No further enhancements are warranted.”

There is some irony that the underlying case concerned a rather direct, literal, inflexible, and draconian enforcement of contracts (the contracts between RFC and its lenders) but, when it came to enforcing the contract between RFC and its lawyers, the Court effectively exercised its discretion to strip the Plaintiffs’ lawyers of some of their bargained-for legal fees.

FULL DISCLOSURE: LEVENTHAL pllc was local counsel to two lenders who were sued by RFC and settled. (In hindsight, it would seem they were smart to settle (and ingenious to hire LEVENTHAL pllc, of course). On the other hand, no one should lose sight of the fact that Home Loan Center (HLC), the loser at trial, might appeal and get out of this pickle in days to come.)

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