When it comes to corporate law and class-action cases, attorneys fees can total hundreds of millions of dollars, eye-popping totals that shock even the most jaded court observers. Last week, attorneys for merchants suing Visa and Mastercard over credit card swipe fees were awarded $544 million by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York after winning the long-simmering case.
... Judge Leo M. Strine, who was just nominated by the state’s governor as the next chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, made plenty of headlines when he awarded the winning lawyers a fee that ended up totaling $316 million for 8,600 hours of work. It is reportedly the largest amount ever approved in a shareholder derivative action. The case involved minority shareholders in Southern Peru Copper Corporation, who successful claimed that they were forced by Grupo Mexico to buy an interest in a Mexican mining company named Minera.
The fee also raised the eyebrows of UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge, who questioned whether the decision may have been linked to a concern that some big cases were skipping Delaware for other states. Thus, by rewarding plaintiffs' lawyers a giant fee, other attorneys would be more inclined in the future to choose Delaware courts to hear their cases.