Chancery Grants Attorneys’ Fee Award of More Than $285 Million

In Southern Peru Copper Corporation Shareholder Derivative Litigation, several months ago in a 100-plus page decision summarized on these pages here, the Court of Chancery granted a judgment in the amount of $1.2 billion. That judgment was won by the lawyers in this derivative case on a contingency fee basis. Today, as reported by Tom Hals of Thomson Reuters in an article here, the Court awarded attorneys’ fees of more than $285 million (based on the original judgment, which was later increased). Moreover, the Court in an amended opinion on December 20, 2011 (linked below), increased the judgment’s principal amount to over $1.3 billion, which with interest would increase the judgment to about $2 billion and which would then increase the attorneys’ fees to about $300 million. Someone got an early Christmas gift.

Alison Frankel, also of Thomson Reuters, provides additional details in an article here, including links to some of the court filings and reference to a revised opinion available here in which the Court made edits to the 100-plus page original opinon highlighted at the link above. Joe DiStefano of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes about the case here.  On Dec. 28, 2011, The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog, in a post  available here by Joe Palazzolo, compared this fee award to other fee awards.

Supplement: Professor Stephen Bainbridge, a corporate law expert often cited by the Delaware courts, comments on this fee award here, and suggests that the decision may be helpful to both the Delaware Bench and Bar to the extent that it may entice plaintiffs lawyers to return to Delaware–especially those who, according to the scholarship of Professor Bernard Black and others, have fled Delaware in response (at least in part) to recent decisions critical of plaintiffs’ lawyers.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog provides excerpts here from the transcript for the hearing on attorneys’ fees.