Lawyers in Eastern Case File For $7.4 Million in Fees
NEW YORK (AP) _ Lawyers involved in Eastern Airlines’ bankruptcy case are asking the court for more than $7.4 million in legal fees.
Law firms representing Eastern, its major creditors and a court-appointed bankruptcy examiner filed the applications in U.S. Bankruptcy Court earlier this month.
Altogether, at least 135 lawyers have worked on the case since Eastern filed for Chapter 11 protection March 9, five days after the start of a crippling strike. Eastern has filed a plan to rebuild to two-thirds its pre- strike size.
″Bankruptcy is a trough and all of the animals in the barnyard come to feed in it,″ Bruce Simon, the lead attorney in the case for the Air Line Pilots Association, said Monday. ″Especially in a bankruptcy context, the fees that are paid typically are outrageous.″
Attorneys for Eastern’s three striking unions - ALPA, the Machinists and the flight attendants union - are paid by the unions.
The $7.4 million in fees, which must be paid out of Eastern’s assets, cover the first four months of the proceeding and are subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton R. Lifland, who has scheduled a hearing on the matter for Sept. 5. Legal fees generally are approved in bankruptcy cases.
Harvey Miller, the lead lawyer for Eastern, put in 804 hours on the case at the rate of $375 an hour, for a total of $301,650. His associate, Bruce Zirinsky, is asking for $300 an hour for 1,156 hours of work, or $346,890.
Miller and Zirinsky are with Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a New York firm specializing in bankruptcy law, has 80 to 85 attorneys on the Eastern case, with fees ranging from $70 an hour to Miller’s $375.
The firm’s combined fee application of $3.8 million was the largest chunk of the total filed. ″These are our standard billing rates,″ Miller said.
The firms will be required to file new applications every three months until the airline emerges from bankruptcy, a goal Eastern hopes to achieve by the end of this year.