No decision yet in Visa, MC attorney fees

By Steve Korris | Sep 24, 2008

WHEELING – Thirty-five days after Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson gave himself 30 days to consider an objection to a $3.6 million fee for special assistants to Attorney General Darrell McGraw, Wilson has not released a decision.

He withheld approval of the $3,684,484.51 fee at a hearing on Aug. 20, stunning lawyers who had expected to divide it into six equal shares.

The lawyers acted as McGraw's special assistants in five years of class action litigation against the Visa and MasterCard credit companies.

Visa and MasterCard agreed earlier this year to settle the claim by funding a $12 million sales tax holiday on certain appliances.

Wilson approved the settlement on Aug. 20 but said he would hear an objection to the fee from Steve Cohen of Wheeling, director of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse.

Cohen asked Wilson to require an accounting of the work each lawyer performed, and he proposed to award fees on that basis rather than dividing it equally.

Wilson said he hadn't had time to read the fee motion. McGraw's deputy, Fran Hughes, had filed it the previous day.

Wilson said he would rule in 30 days, and the hearing ended.

Hughes hurried to Cohen and told him, "One of these days you will be exposed and you will get your due."

The fee motion identifies Teresa Toriseva of Wheeling, Guy Bucci and Timothy Bailey of Charleston, George Sampson of Seattle, and Dan Cohen and Jonathan Cuneo of Washington as McGraw assistants.

Barry Hill of Wheeling, who helped file the suit in 2003 and worked on it through 2006, demanded a share of the fee in a letter to Wilson in March.

Neither McGraw nor Wilson has responded to the letter.

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