Lawyers Propose Split of Deepwater Horizon Case Fees

Two law firms in New Orleans and Lafayette, La., that led the plaintiffs' case are slated to receive $87.7 million each if the proposed allocation is approved.

Law firms that participated in the class-action litigation of the Deepwater Horizon case have proposed how they will share about $680 million in fees, with two firms in New Orleans and Lafayette, La., that led the plaintiffs' case to receive $87.7 million each, Katherine Sayre of nola.com reported April 13. The document listing the proposed fee allocation was filed April 11.

A committee made up of six of the plaintiffs' firms reviewed fee requests and conducted interviews in order to develop their recommendation.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier of New Orleans had awarded fees to the plaintiffs' lawyers last October, saying in his order that the allocation would be decided later. Judge Barbier and John Perry, a special master for fees appointed in the case, must review the proposal, Sayre reported.

Barbier's order spelled out how much work was one in the litigation to resolve claims after an explosion in April 2010 caused the loss of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. "Petitioning Attorneys have performed an immense amount of work in this MDL [multi-district litigation]," Barbier wrote in the order. "Counsel expended over 527,000 hours on common benefit work. Counsel took hundreds of depositions and analyzed over 90 million pages of documents. Furthermore, they did something that rarely happens in class actions: they actually went to trial. Counsel engaged in a massive, two-phase trial effort in pursuit of the claims assigned to the class by BP and the expressly reserved claims of individual class members. The demands of this case not only precluded other employment, it required many common benefit attorneys to move to New Orleans and devote their entire practice to this MDL for years. These lawyers spent days and weeks away from their homes and families. This resulted in a high level of collaboration, benefitting not only class members, but the entire litigation."

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