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Redacted attorney bills sufficient

When requesting attorney fees in federal court, pursuant to a contractual fee-shifting provision, rather than a statute, the attorney can submit redacted bills that omit descriptions of the work performed.

In an Aug. 30 opinion from the Seventh Circuit, Judge Kenneth F. Ripple explained for the court, “Given the fact that the fees were paid by a party who had no reassurance of indemnity, we believe[ that market considerations normally would render unnecessary resort to the time-consuming examination of individual expenses.”

Rather than engaging in line-by-line review of bills, the court held that district courts should consider the fees in the aggregate to ensure they are reasonable in relation to the stakes of the case and the litigation strategy.

The court noted that a corporation’s general counsel has a duty to its client to ensure that the fees it pays outside counsel is reasonable, warranting an implicit finding of reasonableness.

Case: Metavante Corp. v. Emigrant Savings Bank, Nos. 09-3007 & 09-3996

For a full analysis of the opinion, see the Aug. 6 issue of Wisconsin Law Journal.

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