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Fresno County Employees' Retirement Association v. Isaacson/Weaver Family Trust

925 F.3d 63 (2019)

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Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association v. Isaacson/Weaver Family Trust

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

925 F.3d 63 (2019)

Facts

The Isaacson/Weaver Family Trust (the trust) (plaintiff) was a member of a securities class-action lawsuit brought under several federal securities laws and regulations. The laws and regulations included fee-shifting provisions that required defendants to pay reasonable attorney’s fees to prevailing plaintiffs. The class was represented by Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman LLP (the law firm). The class action was settled. The class received $10.9 million, paid into a common fund. The law firm requested attorney’s fees of 25 percent of the fund—$2.75 million—and over $130,000 in expenses. The trust opposed the requested attorney’s-fee award, arguing that the district court should calculate fees according to the lodestar method. The lodestar method was generally used in cases in which a plaintiff was awarded attorney’s fees according to a fee-shifting statute, whereas the percentage-of-the-fund method was used to calculate attorney’s fees in class actions in which the class was awarded a common fund. The trust reasoned that because the case was brought under fee-shifting statutes, the lodestar method should be used. The district court found that the fee the law firm sought was reasonable and granted the request. The trust appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pooler, J.)

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