$3.9M Fees on Shaky Ground in No-Fly Case
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A former Stanford graduate student who successfully challenged her inclusion on the no-fly list must trim her demand for nearly $3.9 million in fees, a federal judge said Monday.
In a modern-day version of David taking on Goliath, Rahinah Ibrahim successfully fought a mistake by an FBI agent that landed her on a terrorist database and the Transportation Security Administration's no-fly list, and got her booted out of the United States in 2005.
Her pro bono lawyers with McManis Faulkner requested $3.9 million in attorneys' fees and expenses related to the eight-year case, and in April U.S. District Judge William Alsup admonished those lawyers for violating local court rules by not meeting with the Department of Justice to hash out the attorney fees issue first.
This mistake, combined with "a fee petition that is grossly overbroad even to the point of seeking double recovery," would justify tossing the petition, Alsup said at the time. He ordered Ibrahim's lawyers to remove billing for nonrecoverable items and instances of overstaffing and inefficiencies.
Alsup also ordered DOJ lawyers to provide some sort of time records for the team that handled the government's case. But neither side complied with his directives, prompting the judge to reluctantly give them one more chance to comply.
"The government shall submit its own time records. Plaintiff's counsel shall trim back the fees requested, limiting the submissions to those earlier found to be recoverable. Counsel for plaintiff's submission should also critique the government's counter-submission of $156,844. If plaintiff's counsel fail to do this, the court is likely to adopt the government's calculation and allocation to avoid the further expense of additional satellite litigation before the special master," Alsup stated in an order filed Monday.
The parties have only until June 9 to submit their corrections, the judge concluded.