Digitek lawyers ask judge for $6M

By Steve Korris | Mar 11, 2011

Goodwin CHARLESTON -- Plaintiff lawyers who settled claims over heart medicine Digitek for $10 to $13 million ask U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin for more than $6 million.


CHARLESTON -- Plaintiff lawyers who settled claims over heart medicine Digitek for $10 to $13 million ask U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin for more than $6 million.

Lead counsel Fred Thompson, of Motley Rice in Mount Pleasant, S.C., petitioned in February for $4,400,041.75 in fees for litigating against pill maker Actavis Totowa and distributor Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

Thompson asked Goodwin to order reimbursement of plaintiff steering committee members for $1,338,260.91 in expenses, including committee assessments on members at $25,000 a head.

The petition provided little or no documentation of travel and meal expenses.

Co-lead counsel Carl Frankovitch of Weirton submitted monthly reports showing his firm spent $27,986.04 on travel and meals, with no details.

Camp Bailey of Houston, Texas, submitted two bills for "Amex travel exp" on the same day, for $7,701.20 and $2,140.05, with no details.

More candid than most, Ed Blizzard of Houston informed Goodwin that his firm spent $992.31 on a single occasion at Rapscallion's restaurant in Denver.

Seeking further fees under a theory that lawyers who lost should win, Thompson asked Goodwin to award $340,073.50 to committee members who proposed a class action over economic losses.

Goodwin denied class certification last year, finding individual issues predominated over common issues.

Thompson wrote, "While efforts to achieve class certification were ultimately unsuccessful, the work performed by class counsel and the time and money spent pursuing these claims did further the litigation as a whole."

He asked for $7,848.39 in reimbursement of class action expenses, bringing the total request to $6,086,224.55.

The litigation started in 2008, after Actavis recalled a batch of Digitek from a plant in New Jersey due to fears it had doubled the thickness of some pills.

The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation consolidated cases from many federal courts and assigned them to Goodwin.

Some suits alleged personal injuries and some alleged economic losses.

Litigation over personal injuries lost steam after Goodwin allowed Actavis and Mylan to see medical reports behind the claims.

Actavis and Mylan discovered that lawyers had sued without medical evidence, and lawyers began dismissing suits.

Litigation over economic losses lost steam when Goodwin denied class certification.

The parties announced a settlement last September, obligating Actavis and Mylan to contribute $10 to $13 million to a private fund.

Several plaintiffs opted out, and Goodwin plans to continue proceedings for them.

He must also decide whether to award all the fees and expenses the settling lawyers requested.

Peter Miller of Orange, Va., billed $580,125, for 1,547 hours at $375 an hour. His associate Preston Williams billed $187,275, for 681 hours at $275 an hour.

Their firm billed $15,425 for travel, with no details.

James Pettit of Cherry Hill, N.J., billed $399,657.50 for 726.65 hours at $550 an hour.

Scott Weinstein of Fort Myers, Fla., billed $290,860 for 551.6 hours at his firm, more than $500 an hour, plus $7,157 for meals and travel, with no details.
Harry Bell of Charleston billed $196,820 for 605.6 hours at $325 an hour, and billed $80,669 for 648.44 hours of an associate and a paralegal.

Shelly Sanford of Houston billed $105,050 for 210.1 hours at $500 an hour and $89,633.25 for Anthony Coveny at $245 an hour.

Her firm billed $11,288.71 for travel and meals, with no details.

Bailey's firm billed $79,942.50 for his time at $550 an hour, and $133,521.25 for others at an average of about $350 an hour.

Blizzard's firm billed $45,925.57 for travel and meals, with no details.

An award for class action fees would mostly benefit the Wolf Popper firm in New York, where lawyers billed $264,578.50 for 490.8 hours on the certification motion that failed.

Meghan Carter of Motley Rice topped them all with 3,534.65 hours, roughly equal to a year and eight months at 40 hours a week.

Thompson reported 1,821 hours, plus 25 on the class action, but he left it to Goodwin's discretion to award a reasonable rate to him, Carter and others at Motley Rice.

The firm requested reimbursement of $182,696.19 in expenses, plus $190,301.78 it spent to cover expenses of the plaintiff steering committee in a period of low operating funds.

Goodwin ordered Actavis and Mylan to respond by March 15.

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