Two Judges Fault Requests for Fees by Pa. Law Firm
Judges at opposite ends of the state have slashed fee requests by a Pennsylvania firm in starkly similar Fair Debt Collect Practices Act (FDCPA) cases. Western District Judge Michael Telesca (See Profile), in Payne v. Allied Interstate, 12-cv-6136, and Southern District Judge Colleen McMahon (See Profile), in Solomon v. Allied Interstate, 12 Civ. 7940, both said the Ambler-Pa. firm of Kimmel & Silverman attempted to bill far too much in FDCPA cases, should not have billed for the multitude of emails that went back and forth among its lawyers and had no business charging the defendant for its costs in having an attorney admitted pro hac vice.
In Payne, Telesca said Kimmel & Silverman "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." He chastised the firm for work that was "unnecessary, redundant, administrative, or clerical" and chopped its fee request from $5,895 to $1,880.
In Solomon, McMahon noted that the "Kimmel firm has been the subject of quite a few decisions on the reasonableness of its attorneys' fees in this District and elsewhere." She said this "routine FDCPA case could have been prosecuted by an associate, at a rate of $125 per hour, in about half the time that it took five attorneys and four paralegals to handle the case." She awarded $1,540 in fees and costs; the firm had requested $4,968.
The plaintiffs in both cases, who claimed that Allied Interstate, a debt collector, violated the FDCPA, settled their claims for $1,000.
Payne, the plaintiff in the Western District case was represented by Christopher Kelleher and Craig Thor Kimmel of Kimmel & Silverman. In that matter, Casey Devin Laffey of Reed Smith in Manhattan and Colin Ramsey of Underberg & Kessler in Buffalo represented Allied Interstate. Solomon, the plaintiff in the Southern District case, was represented by Kimmel and Joseph Gentilcore. Laffey appeared for Allied.