Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

In re Anadarko Basin Oil and Gas Lease Antitrust Litigation

United States District Court, W.D. Oklahoma

April 25, 2019

IN RE ANADARKO BASIN OIL AND GAS LEASE ANTITRUST LITIGATION

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ATTORNEYS' FEES, REIMBURSEMENT OF EXPENSES, AND INCENTIVE AWARD

          JOE HEATON CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Reimbursement of Expenses, and Incentive Awards. The court has considered (1) the Settlement Agreement, dated August 30, 2018 [Doc. #220-2]; (b) the court's December 18, 2018, Preliminary Approval Order [Doc. #231]; (c) Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Reimbursement of Expenses, and Incentive Awards [Doc. #237] and supporting documents; and (d) the Declaration of Warren T. Burns on Behalf of Class Counsel in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Final Approval of Class Settlement and Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees, Reimbursement of Expenses, and Incentive Awards [Doc. #238-1] and related exhibits. Additionally, on April 25, 2019, the court held a Fairness Hearing regarding the parties' Settlement Agreement. Upon considering all of the submissions and arguments with respect to the Settlement, and upon full information and for good cause shown the court finds and concludes as follows:

         1. Upon review of the record, the court concludes that Class Counsel's requested award of attorneys' fees in the amount of one-third of the $6.95 million cash value of the Settlement (the “Settlement Fund”) after deduction of expenses and incentive awards, $2, 316, 666.67, is within the applicable range of reasonable attorneys' fees percentage-of-recovery awards established by relevant precedent.

         2. The percentage-of-recovery method of calculating attorneys' fee awards is appropriate in this action. See, e.g., In re Sandridge Energy, Inc., 2015 WL 11921422, at *2 (W.D. Okla. Dec. 22, 2015), aff'd sub nom. In re SandRidge Energy, Inc., 875 F.3d 1297 (10th Cir. 2017); Shaw v. Interthinx, Inc., 2015 WL 1867861, at *5 (D. Colo. Apr. 22, 2015).

         3. The relevant factors used to determine whether a common fund fee is reasonable, as articulated by the Tenth Circuit in Johnson v. Georgia Hwy. Expr., Inc., 488 F.2d 714 (5th Cir. 1974), support a conclusion that the requested fee is reasonable. These factors are:

(1) the time and labor involved; (2) the novelty and difficulty of the questions; (3) the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; (4) the preclusion of other employment by the attorney due to acceptance of the case; (5) the customary fee; (6) any prearranged fee. . .; (7) time limitations imposed by the client or the circumstances; (8) the amount involved and the results obtained; (9) the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorneys; (10) the undesirability of the case; (11) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; and (12) awards in similar cases.

See Brown v. Phillips Petroleum Co., 838 F.2d 451, 454-55 (10th Cir. 1988) (citing Johnson, 488 F.2d at 717-19).

         4. The time and labor spent by Class Counsel support the requested fee award.

         This action has spanned three years and has required Counsel to engage in motion practice, substantial fact discovery, expert analysis, multiple days of mediation, and ongoing arms-length settlement negotiations. Counsel filed motions and pleadings, conducted and defended depositions, interviewed witnesses, reviewed millions of pages of documents, and served and responded to numerous requests for written and documentary discovery. See [Doc. #238-1] at ¶ 25. The time and effort spent by Class Counsel on this matter was both substantial and appropriate in light of the circumstances of this case.

         5. The fee's reasonableness is further illustrated by a lodestar crosscheck, which indicates that Plaintiffs' requested fee award represents a negative multiplier on Class Counsel's lodestar amount. See [Doc. #28-1] at ¶ 30. Accordingly, this factor supports the requested award in the amount of one-third of the Settlement Fund.

         6. This matter included numerous factual and legal challenges, requiring Class Counsel to exercise skill and expertise to effectively pursue Plaintiffs' claims on behalf of the Class. By their nature, conspiracies such as that alleged by Plaintiffs are difficult to prove. See, e.g., Hamilton v. Arnold, 29 Fed.Appx. 614, 616 (1st Cir. 2002) (observing “the sine qua non of a conspiracy, the agreement, is exceedingly difficult to prove directly”). The specific facts of this case, which left Plaintiffs with only circumstantial evidence of Defendants' alleged conspiracy, made that particularly true.

         7. Plaintiff faced significant evidentiary challenges had this matter proceeded to class certification, summary judgment, and ultimately, trial. These included an alleged co-conspirator's failure to maintain an electronic database containing information at the heart of Plaintiffs' claims; that same co-conspirator's bankruptcy, which removed that alleged co-conspirator from the case and made it more difficult for Plaintiffs to obtain documents and testimony; and the death of Defendant Chesapeake's CEO and founder, who was a central figure in Plaintiffs' allegations. A number of potential Class members with strong claims against Defendants entered into individual settlements and releases with Defendants, creating additional evidentiary hurdles.

         8. Defendant Chesapeake's admission to a limited number of anticompetitive agreements in response to an investigation by the Department of Justice created a further challenge for the prosecution of Plaintiffs' claims. Having admitted to ten isolated anticompetitive transactions, Chesapeake maintained its wrongdoing was limited to solely the ten agreements uncovered in the DOJ investigation, and that no broader wrongdoing occurred and no broader class-wide injury exists. See, e.g., [Doc. #181] at ¶¶ 1-4.

         9. All of the forgoing circumstances posed difficulties requiring the skill of ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.