Judge Docks Lawyer $1,600 in FDCPA Settlement

An attorney has had his rate docked $100 an hour by a federal judge, who deemed the work conducted in obtaining a $1,001 settlement for an alleged violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act not to be worth the $400 per hour requested by the lawyer.

A plaintiff filed a lawsuit against a defendant, alleging a violation of the FDCPA. Before the defendant could respond, the plaintiff reached out with a settlement offer of $1,001 plus reasonable attorney fees. The defendant subsequently agreed to the deal. The plaintiff’s lawyer then submitted a bill for 16.3 hours of work at a rate of $400 per hour. A federal judge from the District of Minnesota decided that the attorney’s work wasn’t worth the amount and decided to pay him $300 per hour instead.

The attorney created most of his documents and filings from pre-existing templates, according to the judge, and the knowledge of the FDCPA needed to obtain an outcome in this case was not that of an expert.

“There are certainly some FDCPA matters that require a great level of experience and skill, but this matter was not one of them,” wrote Judge Paul Magnuson.

Finally, the lawyer did not provide enough evidence to justify an hourly rate of $400, Judge Magnuson said.

A copy of the ruling in Meidal v. Messerli & Kramer can be obtained by clicking here.

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