Issue: Can a prevailing relator recover fees incurred in consulting legal experts and authorities when seeking an award of attorney’s fees pursuant to the False Claims Act (FCA), or qui tam, claim?
|Area of Law:||Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence|
|Keywords:||Attorney fees; False Claims Act (FCA); Relator|
|Cited Cases:||621 F. Supp. 2d 710; 912 F. Supp. 2d 165|
It is not only appropriate, but also a common and necessary practice, for experienced litigators to consult legal authorities when developing arguments to present on behalf of their clients. United States ex rel. Thompson v. Walgreen Co., 621 F. Supp. 2d 710, 715 (D. Minn. 2009). “‘Experts in substantive practice areas are still required to conduct ‘research’ (indeed, a lawyer would be negligent if he or she did not conduct ‘research’) to determine the current state of the law[,] and no practitioner would be expected to know all answers to legal questions, even within the practitioner’s area of expertise.'” Id. (quoting Miller v. Holzmann, 575 F. Supp. 2d 2, 43 (D.D.C. 2008) TA s "Miller v. Holzmann, 575 F. Supp. 2d. 2, 12 n.20 (D.D.C. 2008)" )).
The accepted approach is to uphold the billing as reasonable so long as “‘the listed activities reasonably correspond to the number of hours billed[.]'” Federal Trade Comm’n v Circa Direct LLC, 912 F. Supp. 2d 165, 177 (D.N.J. 2012) TA s "Federal Trade Comm’n v Circa Direct LLC, 912 F. Supp. 2d 165, 177 (D.N.J. 2012)" (citations and quotations omitted).
Moreover, even in circuits that disfavor block billing, an attorney’s entries that are sufficiently specific may pass muster easily. See United States v. NCH Corp., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94486, at *20 (D.N.J. Sept 10, 2010) TA l "United States v. NCH Corp., 2010 U.S. […]