On Friday, the Ohio attorney general said that plaintiff’s law firms, including Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann, Kessler Topaz Meltzer & Check, and Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer are expected to split an expected sum of $ 150 million in the $2.43 billion class action settlement with Bank of America Corp.
However, the sum is relatively modest considering it is only about 6 percent of the settlement award in what is termed as the largest recovery in a securities class action dating from the recession. While the firms have not yet filed a formal request for attorney fees, the happy announcement by the Ohio attorney general seems to be a signal to apply for a modest amount within the predicted limit. Once the firms file for attorney fees, the same would be subject to the approval of U.S. District judge Kevin Castel in Manhattan.
The announcement was made by Dan Tierney, a spokesman for Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine who believes the attorney fees in the case is expected to be about $150 million, and not more. So far, the concerned law firms have declined to make any comment over the fee award, or the cheerful comments of the Ohio attorney general.
However, according to legal experts, the Ohio attorney general was calculating the fees at six percent of the settlement award, though the median attorney fees for securities class actions were close to double that amount at 11.1 percent.
Joseph Grundfest, a professor at the Stanford Law School told Reuters, “Typically, the larger the settlement, the smaller the percentage for the fee.” Hence, the Ohio attorney general may have good reason to hold the attorney fees to be around six percent of the settlement and not more than that.
The case is In re Bank of America Corp Securities, Derivative, and Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) Litigation, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 09-MDL-2058.