Lawyers will get $64K if Hylla approves '01 United Life class settlement

Amelia Flood Jan. 27, 2011, 6:24am



Attorneys for lead plaintiff Christopher Booher and a class of credit insurance buyers will receive $64,000 in fees and costs, or 40 percent of a proposed settlement, if Madison County Circuit Judge Dave Hylla gives final approval in a case against United Life Insurance Co.

Class counsel Robert Schmieder II of LakinChapman in Wood River said the amount class members would receive, approximately $19.50 each, was "extraordinary."

The fee is calculated at $59,050.68 or about 40 percent of the $160,000 total settlement.

Total hours worked, according to the case file, was about 239, which Schmieder argues would exceed the $64,000 request under the current settlement.

The class counsel also points out in an attached affidavit that its firm has not been reimbursed to date for out of pocket court costs.
Schmieder is asking for $4,949.32 in costs.

Hylla had asked for additional documents related to the costs and fees the class counsel racked up in the suit's nine years before he would approve the settlement.

The parties filed the requested documents Jan. 25.

Hylla is set to take up the settlement again at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 4.

Schmieder admitted under questioning by Hylla on Jan. 14 that the case had weakened as it went on.

Booher led the class against United Life for allegedly giving a commission to auto dealers who sold credit insurance to Booher and class members when they bought cars.

Booher and the class claim that they were never informed that the dealers had a stake in selling them the insurance when the purchases were made and had they known, they could have negotiated better deals.

Booher, who has led at least one other Madison County class action, was a high school class mate of Bradley Lakin, the managing partner at LakinChapman.

United Life attorney James Garrison told Hylla at the Jan. 14 fairness hearing that his client believed that it would have prevailed had the case been tried.

Under the settlement, United Life does not admit any fault.

United Life and the Booher class reached the settlement after eight years of litigation last year in mediation.

According to statements made by Schmieder at the initial approval hearing, while the attorneys brought home more for class members, they will not take home nearly as much in fees and costs as they incurred during the case.

Two exhibits filed by the class counsel indicate that Daniel Cohen, the former lead attorney on the case, spent at least 49 hours on the suit billing $250 an hour. Cohen's total as recorded in the exhibit was worth $12,241.68. A note at the bottom of the list indicates that based on a review of the records, Schmieder believes Cohen did not log all of his billable hours on the case into his firm's records' system.

Attorneys Robert Evola, Paul Marks, Jeffrey Millar, Marc Parker, and Michael Reid spent approximately 124 combined billable hours working on the case.

Those hours total $38,179.82.

Booher's former classmate, Lakin, spent 0.6 billable hours on the suit and took home $231.

Schmieder billed about 29 hours for a total of $10,220.00

Four paralegals billed hours for a total of $7505.10.

The highest portion of the attorneys' costs according to the exhibits was copy costs totaling $2,098.91. The remainder of the costs include court reporters, filing fees, travel and research costs among other items.

The case is Madison case number 01-L-1824.

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