UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY
ROBERT C. MCKEE CASE NO. 92-30142
ANN BRADLEY MCKEE
This matter is before the Court upon the Application of Attorney for Debtor for Compensation filed herein on July 16, 1992 and the Objection to Fee Application filed by the Trustee on August 10, 1992. Both parties have filed briefs and the matter has been submitted to the Court for decision.
The dispute in this matter centers around the contention of the Trustee that the amount of compensation sought by the debtors' attorneys is excessive under the circumstances of this case. The Trustee recognizes the competence of the applicants and does not question the hours itemized by the applicants.
The proper standard to be applied in the determination of attorney's fees is the "lodestar" method. Boddy v. United States Bankruptcy Court, Western District of Kentucky, et al., 950 F.2d 334, (6th Cir., 1991).
With respect to the time and labor required, the application herein reflects a total of 26.93 hours spent on the case. The Trustee does not take issue with the hours claimed by the applicants. Further, a review of the application reveals that the claimed hours appears reasonable in light of the assets, liabilities, pleadings and other matters revealed by the file.
With respect to novelty and difficulty of the questions raised, it does not appear that novel or difficult questions were raised in the matter, although, since this was a business Chapter 13 proceeding, the opportunity for more demanding or novel issues to arise was present.
The debtors chose very sophisticated counsel to represent them in this proceeding. It appears that they chose counsel with significantly more sophistication than the case actually required, although neither the debtors nor counsel could have known at the beginning that the matter would proceed as smoothly as it did. The attorneys for the debtors unquestionably had the skill required to properly represent the debtors on this proceeding. Likewise the attorneys for the debtors have broad experience in matters of this nature and an excellent reputation and have demonstrated high abilities in this type of work.
It appears that there is no information before the Court which would bear on any lost opportunity costs of debtors' attorneys, the customary fee for like work, any factors which would make the case an undesirable one in the legal community, the nature and length of the professional relationship between attorney and client or attorney fee awards on similar cases. For that reason these factors will have no positive or negative effect upon the Court's decision herein.
While there is almost always some urgency in the filing and prosecution of each bankruptcy case, there does not appear to have been an unusual amount of urgency here.
The amount in controversy here, as calculated by the Trustee, will result in the payment to unsecured creditors of from $21,000 to $23,000 less the attorneys' fees approved on approximately $81,000 worth of unsecured debt. This amount of both debt and repayment is larger than most proceedings of this nature and militates in favor of the applicants. The results obtained appear to be favorable to the debtors in the sense that debtors' plan was confirmed.
The expectations of debtors' counsel with respect to the fees involved is reflected by the fee statement filed March 20, 1992. While this amount was less than the amount requested, the Court does not believe that this should weigh against debtors' counsel.
Based upon all of the factors above, it appears that a reasonable hourly rate for W. Thomas Bunch in this matter would be $140 per hour and for Gail M. Bunch the sum of $100 per hour. The record reflects that W. Thomas Bunch expended 9.03 hours on this matter which, when multiplied by the above hourly rate yields $1,264.20. The record reflects 17.9 hours expended by Gail M. Bunch which yields a fee of $1,790.00. It further appears that the debtors' attorneys advanced or incurred $271.18 in reimbursable expenses on behalf of the debtors. The above sums total $3,325.38 against which there is to be applied the $500.00 advance fee paid by the client leaving a sum due the attorneys in the amount of $2,825.38. A separate order will be entered allowing the fees and expenses in that amount.
Dated this _________ day of September, 1992.
By the Court-
Attorneys for debtors
United States Trustee