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Judge Reserves Decision on Legal Fees

October 13, 1987

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) _ The lawyers handling the Texaco case in federal bankruptcy court will continue to be paid at 75 percent of their fees since a federal bankruptcy judge reserved decision Tuesday on whether to hike payment to 90 percent.

Attorneys representing two separate creditors committees in Texaco’s Chapter 11 case argued that payment should be increased to 90 percent of the fees because Texaco was a solvent company.

″There is no question of the company’s ability to pay,″ said George Weisz, the attorney for the industry committee. The 25 percent held back was going to ″soon add up to real money″ and the limitation ″was a considerable financial drain″ on the many lawyers in the case.

Legal fees for attorneys since Texaco filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code last April has topped $6.2 million for 11 law firms.

The 75 percent payment schedule had been set previously by U.S. District Court Judge Howard Schwartzberg.

While both Weisz and Joel Zwiebel, the attorney for the general committee, said they understood the need for some money held back, they thought it could be 10 percent or less.

Texaco’s lead bankruptcy attorney Harvey Miller argued that the 25 percent held back did not cause ″substantial hardship″ on the attorneys.

As a matter of curiosity, Schwartzberg asked each of the attorneys how much their firms charged per hour. Fees ranged from $200 an hour for a Chicago- based firm to $375 an hour for a law firm representing Pennzoil.

Texaco’s Chapter 11 filing stemmed from a more than $10 billion judgment awarded Pennzoil by a Texas jury which found that Texaco had illegally acquired Getty Oil. The Texas case was being appealed.

Pennzoil had requested a detailed accounting of hours and wages from two of Texaco’s legal firms, a request to which Miller objected.

Miller did agree to give the documentation to Schwartzberg, which satisfied Pennzoil attorney Kenneth Klee.