In Ellis v. Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., C.A. 2nd/1, DAR p. 10497, plaintiffs counsel, after settling a class action, initially requested over $24 million in attorneys' fees. However, the court not only denied that request, but then sanctioned the lawyer $165,000. The California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District affirmed those sanctions.
The class action was filed against Toshiba based upon laptops which allegedly shut down intermittently. When plaintiff's counsel requested over $24 million in fees after the case settled, Toshiba sought discovery in response.
When Toshiba asked for copies of time sheets, despite repeated court orders, counsel allegedly delayed the production, claiming she deleted original copies of the time sheets. The lower court found that Plaintiffs' counsel refused to cooperate with a court ordered investigation into her fee request, found contradictory, multiple billing entries, and also determined the request lacked credibility.
Counsel later decreased her request to $12 million, but discrepancies were still found between written time slips and summary tables. The court described the initial request as unrealistic, and found that she refused to produce information, failed to preserve data (and perhaps willfully destroyed underlying time records). Based upon these findings, the court denied her fee request, instead awarding $176,900 to the law office staff.