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Court of Chancery Denies Fee Split Request

In Re William Lyon Homes Shareholders Litigation, C.A. No. 2015-N (Del. Ch. December 21, 2006).

When there are two competing class or derivative actions, there may arise a conflict between them. This is particularly so when one is settled and the settlement will affect the right to proceed in the other litigation. That conflict may generate a fight among plaintiff's counsel over the fees to be awarded by the Court in the settlement. That is what occurred here.

Such fee split cases are governed by the rules set out in In re Infinity Broad. Corp. Shareholders Litigation, 802 A2d 285 (Del. 2002). In effect, this requires the Court to allocate the fees among the claimants based on the Court's views of their respective contributions to the settlement.

The plaintiff in a related California case that sought some of the fees to be awarded ended up with nothing for failure to justify their claim.

On December 21, 2007, the Delaware Supreme Court reversed, in part, the Court of Chancery decision. The Supreme Court held that there was enough in the record to support a presumption that the plainitff in the California case had contributed to a price rise that benefited the class and remanded for further proceedings .

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