Occupy LA Attorneys Get $668,000 in Fees

LOS ANGLES (CN) – Attorneys who secured Occupy L.A. protesters a $2.6 million settlement for mass detentions and “militaristic” police tactics were awarded $668,000 in fees by a federal judge.
     Cheryl Aichele and five other Occupy Los Angeles demonstrators filed a class action in 2012, claiming police used a “shock and awe” campaign to oust hundreds of protesters from the City Hall lawn on Nov. 30, 2011.
     Officers tightly handcuffed protesters and kept them on buses for 7 hours with no restrooms or water, the protesters said.
     “In response to requests to use bathroom facilities, they were told to urinate and defecate on themselves, which some were forced to do,” according to the protesters, who had camped out around the clock for eight days to protest economic inequality and bank bailouts.
     Most of the nearly 300 arrested were kept in custody for more than 60 hours. Others had to post the maximum cash bail for a misdemeanor offense.
     Before the police raid, the City Council had passed a resolution supporting the Occupy protest, but city officials changed their tune and decided to shut down the camp after 59 days, allegedly out of concern for children at the encampment.
     “There was no process by which this decision was made other than executive fiat,” the protesters.
     The city and county of Los Angeles agreed in April to pay $2.45 million and $225,000, respectively, to settle the constitutional claims.
     The 191 class members who filed claims can expect to receive at least $4,000 each. Bystanders who were arrested and those who were not released from custody on their own recognizance – which included most class members – will likely receive more than $10,000.
     U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee approved the agreement on Sept. 9, saying the settlement compares well with other protest cases.
     She awarded class counsel $668,000 – 25 percent of the class fund, which is at the lower end of fee awards for settlements under $10 million.
     Gee found the award appropriate considering the time and skill expended by class counsel during three years of litigation.
     “The issues in this case address complex issues of constitutional law. The legality of the arrests involved complex and largely unchartered First Amendment questions,” Gee wrote .
     The settlement was difficult to come by, as it was unclear whether the city would settle and it required several mediation sessions, Gee said.
     “This case was hard fought” and the result was “very favorable to class members,” Gee said in approving the fees.
     The protesters were represented by Kaye, McLane, Bednarski & Litt; Law Office of Carol Sobel; Schoenbron De Simone, Seplow, Harris & Hoffman; Hadsell Stormer & Rennick; and the Law Office of Colleen Flynn.

%d bloggers like this: