LTD Attorney Fees

In Cockrell v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Company, 2013 U.S.Dist. Lexis 69017 (W.D.Tenn. May 15, 2013), the Court decided a dispute between the parties concerning LTD attorney fees.  After succeeding on the merits with her LTD claim in District Court, the Plaintiff filed a Motion for Attorney’s Fees.  The defendant insurance company opposed the Motion.  First, the Court noted that as a preliminary matter, the plaintiff must have had “some degree of success on the merits.”  This threshold requirement is satisfied if the plaintiff obtains a remand.  Or, as stated by the court, “had received another shot at benefits by winning a remand.”  After determining the threshold issue, the Court examined the five factor test from Schwartz v. Gregori, 160 F.3d 116, 119 (6th Cir. 1998).  The five factors include:

  1. Culpability or bad faith
  2. Ability to Satisfy Award
  3. Deterrent effect
  4. Common benefit
  5. Merits of the case

After analyzing the five factors, the Court held: “the circumstances of this case favors an attorney’s fee award. . . .”

Next, the Court evaluating the reasonableness of the award.  Plaintiff claimed attorney fees of $23,725, which was supported by Affidavits from the plaintiff’s attorney, and another attorney located in Memphis.  The Court noted that “the lodestar approach is the proper method for calculating the award. When using the lodestar approach, ‘in which the number of hours reasonably expended on litigation is multiplied by a reasonable hourly rate,’ . . . . there is a strong presumption that the lodestar figure represents a reasonable fee.”  The Hartford challenged the figure by arguing that the number of hours litigating the case was unreasonable.  The Court carefully scrutinized the hours spent by plaintiff’s counsel, and reduced the figure to $21,225.00.

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About tngadisabilitylawyer
Disability Lawyer in Tennessee and Georgia.

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