The value of protecting scientific research integrity
Finally, as we discussed by telephone, “Yannacone and Associates” does not appear in Martindale-Hubbell. Please provide biographical information on each lawyer for whom fees are requested, including at least the following:
1) Law school and date of law school graduation.
2) Bar memberships and the date of admission to each bar.
3) Legal experience, including all judicial clerkships, law firm associations, or government legal service, specifying for each the dates on which the position was assumed and relinquished. For law firm associations, specify any period during which the lawyer served as an associate with the
firm, and any period during which the lawyer was a partner in the firm.
4) Specify each period following law school graduation during which any lawyer was not engaged in the active practice of law. …
In addition to being professionally demeaning and beneath the dignity of a formal response, the enclosed letter from Philip J. Davis of Kirkland & Ellis representing The Dow Chemical Company raises some interesting and novel legal issues for your consideration.
The application made by and on behalf of the intervening respondent veterans is that a valuable, perhaps priceless academic perquisite—the right to chose the time for release and publication of experimental data—was vindicated largely through the efforts of the intervening respondents who were represented by a team of attorneys, including the undersigned. Yannacone & Associates are lead counsel for the entire class of plaintiff veterans in the “Agent Orange Product Liability Litigation (MDL 381),” the largest personal injury product liability class action in American history. Valuable time and resources were diverted from the veterans’ cases to turn back the efforts of The Dow Chemical Company to accomplish through manipulation of administrative proceedings what they could not do in the laboratories or in the courtroom before your colleague, Judge Pratt.
The value of the services Yannacone & Associates has performed is not to be found in a Martindale-Hubbell listing or even a simple recital of the professional accomplishments of the undersigned and his colleagues. Rather, it is to be found in the fact that the veterans won and The Dow Chemical Company lost.
It is the veterans’ contention that, as a matter of law, counsel for the successful party to a legal proceeding should be remunerated at no less a rate and in no less an amount than counsel for the unsuccessful party.
The measure of the value of our services is to be found in some multiple of the cost of Kirkland & Ellis’ services to their client. Such a contention carries additional weight when one considers that successful counsel acted in a representative capacity for a class of two and half million veterans who lack sufficient means to fund adequate legal services for themselves.
Also to be considered is the fact that the intervening respondent veterans and their attorneys were also asked to represent a number of graduate students whose professional futures were intimately associated with the outcome of this matter. The students also lacked any significant access to legal services. However, in order to avoid any possible appearance of impropriety, the intervening respondent veterans arranged for the firm of Aberg & Jorgenson to represent the interests of the academic respondents and is in striking contrast to Kirkland & Ellis whose Chicago office represents Monsanto and whose Washington office represents The Dow Chemical Company, both of which corporations are defendants in the Agent Orange litigation, the subject matter of which is a competitive product manufactured by each company and in which action each company has filed cross claims against the other.
We submit that before any further inquiry can be had by counsel for The Dow Chemical Company into the propriety of the fees sought for professional services by successful counsel for the respondents and respondent intervenors, full and complete disclosure should be made of the amount of the fees charged by Kirkland & Ellis to The Dow Chemical Company.
The fact that Mr. Davis is unaware of the professional attainments of his principal adversary in this case indicates that he has either led a rather sheltered life, is deaf and blind, or has reached his present professional position by overcoming the handicap of being less than literate. The mere fact that our law firm is not listed in Martindale-Hubbell is of no moment, since we were overlooked in the Book of Genesis as well .
My telephone conference with Mr. Davis, a conference which lasted 13 minutes on November 24, and for which I am not billing, was the kind of arrogant assault upon the professional integrity of a fellow attorney, albeit one more successful in public interest litigation, as to suggest that perhaps there really is a double standard in the profession, and that partners in certain large firms honestly believe that their position entitles them to behave in a manner that less than a century ago would have called for a public thrashing.
If counsel for Dow wishes to present his demands in the form of a motion and present it to Your Honor, Yannacone & Associates will make the appropriate cross-motion. Otherwise, we will ignore his improper demand and overlook the arrogance of his attempt to usurp the position of Your Honor and this Court.
On behalf of the intervening respondent veterans, we respectfully request Your Honor to make an award of attorneys’ fees in the amount demanded, together with such other and further relief as to Your Honor shall seem just and proper under the circumstances. We herewith state, as we did in our sworn affidavit, that the amount demanded represents the fair and reasonable value of our services.
Unless Kirkland & Ellis is willing to come forward and say that their total billings to The Dow Chemical Company in their unsuccessful effort amounted to less than our claim for successfully opposing their improper efforts, there is no further need for any additional material to burden the consideration of this Court. If counsel for Dow does represent that they billed their client less than we are claiming as the fair and reasonable value of our services, then a triable issue exists on the fair and reasonable value of each party’s services and whether or not a multiplier should be applied to the billings of the successful attorneys in a controverted matter. At that point, Your Honor may wish to consider further evidence or conduct a hearing on the matter.
We stand ready to appear before Your Honor as required and present further evidence as Your Honor may direct in the resolution of this matter.
Thank you again for your courtesy and consideration on behalf of the intervening respondent veterans.
YANNACONE & YANNACONE, P.C.
Victor John Yannacone, jr . VJYjr :
Philip J. Davis, Esq.
Kirkland & Ellis, Esqs.
Leonard Rivkin, Esq..
Rivkin, Leff, Sherman & Radler, Esqs.
Steven Schlegel, Esq.
Schlegel & Trafelet, Esqs.
Sullivan & Associates
Robert K. Aberg, Esq.
Aberg & Jorgensen, Esqs.