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Court of Chancery Approves Awards Large Fees!

A few recent articles have questioned the willingness of the Court of Chancery to award adequate fees in class and derivative litigation. These articles focus on one or two instances where fee requests were not met with full approval. This anecdotal approach is misleading. After all, it would be a sign of a failing system if every fee request were given blanket approval regardless of its merits.

Two more recent decisions by the Court of Chancery show it is fully responsive to appropriate fee requests and is willing to award large fees when appropriate. In the McKesson/HBOC litigation, Chancellor Chandler  awarded the plaintiff's attorneys $10 Million for their years of hard work on behalf of McKesson in a derivative suit. More recently, Vice Chancellor Strine in the Hollinger case awarded plaintiff's counsel $2,500,000 in fees for his work in a case where the actual litigation work was fairly brief, but the results were outstanding.

Both of these cases were what are known as Caremark cases alleging that the Board had failed to perform its oversight duty to avoid accounting and other problems. That type of case is fairly characterized as among the most difficult to prove, given the high standard to establish liability.  Thus, when the plaintiffs won a good settlement, their attorneys were rewarded, fairly and even generously.

In short, bring a good case, fight hard, achieve a decent result and the Court of Chancery will reward your effort. That is all we should expect.

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