With a cool million, it's filet mignon, not cheeseburgers, for Conley and Cosenza

By The West Virginia Record | Apr 13, 2012

Whether you consider the price of something high, low, or reasonable depends on the context in which your purchase is made -- as well as your perspective.

An $8 hamburger might seem expensive at a fast-food joint, economical at a fancy steakhouse and appropriately priced at a neighborhood bar or tavern.

Plus, if you've got money to burn or you're ravenously hungry, you might not care how much it costs.

When it comes to pricing, plaintiffs attorneys are not unlike hamburgers –- cheeseburgers, anyway.

Their fees may seem high, low or reasonable, depending on the cases they're trying and the stakes involved.

If you're anticipating a sizable settlement for yourself, or the attorneys are working on a contingency basis, you may not be overly concerned with the cost of their services.

If your attorneys are Ginny Conley and George Cosenza, for instance, and they secure a $5,000 settlement for your unpaid sick leave, you might think the $1 million-plus contingency fee they split is perfectly reasonable.

Judge Robert A. Waters, the presiding magistrate, certainly thought so and said as much, describing the bonanza as "fair and reasonable" and "acceptable in this type of litigation."

Last month, Waters approved the settlement in a class-action suit filed by Conley and Cosenza on behalf of 600 employees of St. Joseph's Hospital who claimed they were not compensated for accrued sick leave following the Wood County hospital's merger with Camden-Clark Memorial.

The defendant agreed to settle the suit for $4.7 million, with nine named plaintiffs receiving $5,000 each and other employees paid an hourly rate for time accrued. Conley and Cosenza hope to pocket any unclaimed funds, in addition to their $1,034,000 fee.

Though he reserved the right to determine how unclaimed funds are distributed, Waters found the fee reasonable.

He probably thinks $8 for a hamburger is a bargain, too. It must be nice to be a steakhouse kind of guy.

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