Attorney’s Fees and Costs: Forum Rate, Excessive Billing


Watson v. HHS. (Fed. CL. Spec. Mstr. Mar. 7, 2016) (Corcoran, SM)

In this fee decision, the Special Master reduced the requested hourly rate from $600 to $375, under McCulloch, for this 40+ NYC attorney. Under that framework, 20+ year attorneys in the vaccine program receive a range of $350-$425 (for work in 2014), depending upon the application of enumerated factors.  The higher-end is awarded to those with significant vaccine program experience.  This attorney only had 2 vaccine cases and his billing records showed he spent hours researching the vaccine program.

The court did not find the Davis exception, for attorneys from a higher-paying forum, applicable, because there was no showing that the attorney possessed special expertise, or that no other counsel was available.  CPI adjustments were made for years prior to 2014, down to $340.  The attorney had requested payment for only 35% of the time billed, which the Special Master found commendable, and in line with what he would have awarded anyway.

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