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Judge Lowers Plaintiff’s Attorney Award By $70k in FDCPA Case

A District Court judge in Florida has dropped the amount sought by a handful of plaintiff’s attorneys who won a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case to $184,000, from their original request of $254,000, ruling the lawyers were asking too much in their hourly rate and were not entitled to fees when the case was appealed to the Eleventh Circuit.

A copy of the ruling in Baez v. LTD Financial Services, L.P., can be accessed by clicking here.

The plaintiff sued the defendant after receiving a collection letter in regards to a time-barred credit card debt. While the letter indicated that the plaintiff would not be sued for the debt because of its age, the letter did not indicate that any payment made by the plaintiff would re-start the statute of limitations clock on the underlying debt. The plaintiff filed a class-action lawsuit, which went to trial, and won. The jury awarded $1,000 to the named plaintiff and $49,361.29 to the remaining members of the class.

The defendant appealed the case to the Eleventh Circuit, which upheld the lower court’s decision.

The plaintiff’s four attorneys — three partners and an associate — indicated they spent nearly 500 hours working on the case. The attorneys submitted an hourly rate of $500. The District Court judge lowered the hourly rate for the partners to $450 and $250 for the associate. The judge also lowered the number of hours worked to 425, removing the 77 hours spent on the appeal.

“This case was more difficult than the average FDCPA case, and required experienced attorneys, which Plaintiff engaged,” wrote Judge Paul Byron of the District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division.

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