Motorola Fights 'Outrageous' Fee High Cost of Litigation Often Involves Unimaginable Amounts for Attorneys

Article excerpt

Byline: Bloomberg News

Willie Gary, a Florida attorney whose personal Boeing 737 has an 18-carat gold bathroom sink, wants Motorola Inc. to pay him at least $11,000 an hour for his work on a lawsuit against the company.

In court papers, he says he will ask a judge for twice that because Motorola violated a court order in defending the suit. At that rate, Gary would receive $24.3 million and other plaintiffs' attorneys $12.5 million.

While lawyers sometimes take in the equivalent of $11,000 an hour in contingency fees when they win a big case, the wrinkle in the Gary request is that his client didn't win. The trial in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ended with a hung jury.

"This is outrageous," Paul Alfieri, a spokesman for Schaumburg- based Motorola, said in an e-mailed statement.

Gary, 59, represents SPS Technologies Corp., a defunct Fort Lauderdale company that claims it was put out of business when Motorola stole its technology for tracking motor vehicles.

Gary asked the jury during a November trial to award $10 billion in damages. The jury couldn't reach a decision and a retrial is being scheduled.

Gary, who calls himself "the Brioni man" because he favors the Italian designer's suits, plans to ask Circuit Court Judge Leroy Moe to approve at least the $11,000-an-hour fee. Moe has the authority to double that amount if he buys Gary's argument that higher fees are warranted because Motorola violated the judge's order not to let witnesses see trial transcripts before they testified.

"It is highly unlikely that any court would consider an $11,000 fee," said Lester Brickman, a professor at Cardozo School of Law at New York's Yeshiva University. "I would guess that a reasonable hourly rate to be awarded by the court in this case would be in the range of $300 to $600 an hour. …