Lawyer’s $2,465 hourly price draws objection in J&J talc personal bankruptcy situation

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Legal professional Neal Katyal is noticed in entrance of the U.S. Supreme Courtroom constructing after arguing a scenario just before the court docket in Washington, U.S., November 4, 2014. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

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  • Trustee balked at Neal Katyal’s rate
  • J&J spinoff in talc liability battle wishes Katyal and his regulation firm Hogan Lovells on board for appeals

(Reuters) – The United States is objecting to a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary’s bid to insert Hogan Lovells companion Neal Katyal to its authorized staff in a large-stakes individual bankruptcy case, citing his hourly level of $2,465 — a attainable new lawful business significant.

Johnson & Johnson is using the proceedings to try to solve statements that its infant powder and other talc-based merchandise caused most cancers. The organization, which maintains the goods are protected, in Oct assigned countless numbers of talc lawsuits to a new subsidiary, LTL Management LLC, and placed it in personal bankruptcy.

The U.S. trustee in the Chapter 11 circumstance on Friday asked a federal individual bankruptcy judge in New Jersey to block LTL from retaining Katyal, calling his hourly fee “significantly higher” than that of partners from the 7 other regulation firms already associated in the situation.

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LTL questioned the judge for approval to insert Katyal to its authorized staff previously this month, citing his and Hogan Lovells’ experience in federal appeals. Various talc claimants have appealed the February ruling that permitted LTL’s bankruptcy to move forward.

Lover billing charges at significant law firms are regarded as aggressive business enterprise information and facts and are usually not community. But they are disclosed in some courtroom filings, specifically in personal bankruptcy conditions the place a debtor’s authorized service fees have to be accepted by a choose.

Katyal’s hourly price would rank among the the optimum publicly accessible figures in the authorized sector. Previous U.S. legal professional normal Eric Holder Jr, a lover at Washington, D.C.-based mostly Covington & Burling, very last yr billed at $2,295 an hour in accordance to a contract the organization signed with an Oregon university to perform a workplace society investigation.

Lynn LoPucki, a professor at the College of California at Los Angeles School of Legislation who tracks bankruptcy conditions, mentioned Monday that Katyal’s charge of approximately $2,500 is the best he has witnessed.

Katyal, a previous performing U.S. solicitor standard who has argued dozens of circumstances right before the U.S. Supreme Courtroom, declined to remark on the objection Monday. Hogan Lovells did not immediately react to requests for remark. The trustee, Andrew Vara, declined to remark via a Justice Department spokeswoman, and representatives for Johnson & Johnson did not reply to requests for comment.

According to the trustee’s objection, the hourly price amongst LTL’s legal professionals from Jones Working day topped out at $1,350. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom billed as significant as $1,195 Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ prime amount was $1,579 and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe’s was $1750. Lawyers from King & Spalding and Shook, Hardy & Bacon are also symbolizing LTL.

The trustee earlier sought to disqualify the two Jones Day and Skadden from LTL’s authorized staff since they signify Johnson & Johnson in other matters, but the effort was unsuccessful.

Best authorised billing costs in personal bankruptcy cases have been creeping toward the $2,000 mark in excess of the past 12 months. Kirkland & Ellis’ companion hourly billing rate hit $1,895 in three independent 2021 bankruptcies, even though Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associates billed up to $1,850 per hour in the personal bankruptcy of Chilean bank holding organization Corp Group Banking SA past year.

The scenario is LTL Administration LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court docket for the District of New Jersey, No. 21-30589.

For LTL: Greg Gordon of Jones Working day

For Talc Claimants Committee I: David Molton of Brown Rudnick Melanie Cyganowski of Otterbourg Daniel Stolz of Genova Burns Brian Glasser of Bailey & Glasser Lenard Parkins of Parkins Lee & Rubio and Jonathan Massey of Massey & Gail

For Talc Claimants Committee II: Cullen Drescher Speckhart of Cooley

Examine a lot more:

$2,000 an hour for a bankruptcy law firm? 2022 could be the year

Inside of J&J’s solution plan to cap litigation payouts to most cancers victims

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