Judge Faults 'Overreaching' In Pa. Firm's Fee Requests
A federal judge in Rochester has dramatically reduced a fee request by a Pennsylvania law firm that the judge said "has a long history of overreaching in its fee applications and has been admonished by several courts for attempting to bill for tasks that are not compensable as attorney's fees."
Western District Judge Michael Telesca (See profile) chastised attorneys at the Ambler, Pa. firm of Kimmel & Silverman for billing for work that was "unnecessary, redundant, administrative, or clerical."
He said that much of the firm's billing in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) case was for reading and writing internal emails and, in one instance, for reading electronically generated notices from the court. Telesca noted that the firm also sought reimbursement for the pro hac vice fee it paid to have one of its attorneys admitted to the Western District, even though that lawyer spent at most 18 minutes on the case and never appeared in the Western District.
Telesca cut the time billed by Kimmel & Silverman attorneys by 70 percent and slashed the paralegal hours by 30 percent. He ultimately awarded the firm, which had requested $5,895, a total of $1,880.
The fee request in Payne v. Allied Interstate, 12-cv-6136, involved a plaintiff in Ontario County who claimed a debt collector violated the FDCPA by making harassing and threatening calls to collect a non-existent debt. Shortly after filing his complaint, the plaintiff represented by Kimmel & Silverman, Orland Payne, accepted a $1,000 settlement offer.
Casey Devin Laffey of Reed Smith in Manhattan and Colin Ramsey of Underberg & Kessler in Buffalo represented Allied Interstate. Payne was represented by Christopher Kelleher and Craig Thor Kimmel of Kimmel & Silverman.