In re Advanced Microbial Solutions, L.L.C., 306 B.R. 915, 2004 WL 583080 (NO. CIV.A.4:03-CV-163, 01-44831)
Date: March 5, 2004
Holding: Bankruptcy court's ruling on fee application filed by debtor's attorney AFFIRMED.
This is an appeal of a bankruptcy court's ruling on an attorney to a Chapter 11 debtor-in-possession's application for allowance of fees and expenses. The Bankruptcy Court awarded fees and expenses, but in a reduced amount. Judge Clark held that: (1) where the court had approved attorney's retention at his normal billing rate, the, bankruptcy court, in ruling on fee application, had to use the "lodestar" approach; (2) presentation of evidence, in form of affidavit or live testimony, as to attorney's reasonable hourly rate (which was not done in this case) was fundamental to fee application; (3) the court's decision to make deduction in expenses requested for computer research was not an abuse of discretion; and (4) the "fast track" nature of case was not an "unusual circumstance," such as would permit attorney to be reimbursed for money spent on expedited courier services.
"Applications for attorney fees are not rocket science," Judge Clark concluded, "and should not be the subject of extensive satellite litigation. In 11 U.S.C. § 328, Congress has provided a means for an attorney to propose clear terms and conditions of employment. If these are expressly approved by order of the bankruptcy court, the attorney will be compensated, as expected, in the absence of unanticipated developments which make the terms improvident."