OAG says Woodruff does not deserve $400K attorney’s fees

Posted on Jan 28 2014

The Office of the Attorney General is opposing Betty Johnson’s counsel Bronster Hoshibata law firm’s recommendation to award Johnson’s local counsel, Stephen Woodruff, $400,000 in attorney’s fees and costs.

In the CNMI government’s opposition, assistant attorney general Teresita J. Sablan said that, as with Woodruff’s opinion that he spent at least 300 hours on this case, the court should not accept Bronster’s “unsupported opinion” that Woodruff deserves $400,000.

Sablan said the court has given Woodruff chance after chance to file documents that justify his requested attorney’s fees and he has failed to provide full justification each time.

The government lawyer said that under the Johnson settlement agreement, Woodruff is entitled “to reasonable fees” as approved by the court.

She pointed out that the lawyer’s reasonable fee award is his lodestar amount of 139.7 hours multiplied by an hourly rate that the court determines is commensurate with his skill and reputation.

“A multiplier is not justified because Mr. Woodruff played a minimal role in the case,” Sablan noted.

Attorney Margery Bronster recommended awarding Woodruff $400,000 for his work in the case.

Woodruff is asking for $2.9 million.

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