4 months after former KUSI-TV anchor Sandra Maas received $1.7 million in her pay-equity case, her attorneys have submitted their very own invoice — $4 million.
In a movement filed Friday in San Diego Superior Court docket, three attorneys with Bankers Hill-based Gruenberg Regulation say KUSI-owner McKinnon Broadcasting Co. ought to pay $2.7 million for 4,088 hours of labor since 2019.
On prime of that, the Maas workforce seeks an “enhanced charge” — an additional $1.2 million primarily based on a multiplier of 1.45 they hope Decide Ronald Frazier approves. And so they additionally need to be reimbursed $151,000 in courtroom prices.
Josh Gruenberg, in a telephone interview Friday, mentioned the 20-page movement for attorneys charges may need been filed a pair months in the past, however his workforce needed to wait on telephone information subpoenaed from Verizon, Maas’ provider.
“We wished to have the ability to observe her telephone calls with everybody in my agency,” Gruenberg mentioned. “And we simply wished to verify we had all of that data. … We attempt to maintain information as we go, however clearly, telephone information are going to be the very best.”
KUSI and its authorized workforce didn’t reply to a request for remark. Gruenberg says they’ve two weeks to file an opposing movement.
Gruenberg defends his hourly charge of $800 to $1,000 and people of colleagues Josh Pang ($500-$685), Pam Vallero ($600-$685) and 6 others in his agency.
He says he expects these charges to win OK as a result of different judges, in his different Superior Court docket circumstances, have mentioned they’re tremendous.
Multipliers are widespread in such circumstances — since courts reward plaintiff attorneys for the danger concerned in taking over such civil fits, particularly after they contain novelty or complexity.
Gruenberg, with a 31-year authorized profession, calls himself a contingency charge lawyer — not billing his purchasers on a month-to-month foundation as some do.
Why a multiplier of 1.45 — when some go 2.0 or greater?
It was a determine “more than likely to be awarded by the courtroom,” he mentioned. “Some courts award them and a few courts haven’t. And we felt that we wished to take a really affordable place with regard to that to encourage the choose to compensate the agency.”
Gruenberg says he’s sought and obtained 1.45 multipliers up to now. However he’s additionally taken losses when his circumstances have been dismissed on abstract judgment or failed at trial.
He cited a federal case, thrown out in Could, in opposition to CoreCivic — operator of the Otay Mesa Detention Heart accused of not letting guards shield themselves from COVID-19 early within the pandemic.
“I had six figures in prices in that case,” he mentioned. “And … lots of of 1000’s in attorneys charges.”
Within the carefully watched Maas case, the place a jury discovered that she had been grossly underpaid for years in contrast together with her co-anchor Allen Denton and that her employer engaged in whistleblower retaliation, Maas will be capable of maintain her whole award if Frazier OKs the Gruenberg movement on charges.
Maas’ attorneys observe of their movement virtually 4 years of authorized work, “and nearly all of this time was necessitated by [KUSI’s] aggressive and obstinate litigation technique. In sum, Defendant made plaintiff work for it — and she or he did.”
The Gruenberg Regulation workforce argues the case was novel and tough “as a result of absence of controlling case legislation for a lot of points offered by this litigation. … From Plaintiff’s analysis, this was the primary part 1197.5 case that truly went to trial and verdict.”
Even when Frazier orders cost of the requested $4,077,400.45, Maas’ workforce will face extra bills if KUSI appeals the decision as promised. Gruenberg says he’d file an amended movement to spice up the invoice.
One other concern is the pending sale of KUSI-TV to Nexstar.
“Now we’re a defendant that’s probably being bought — and every time an organization is being bought, you by no means know what sort of shenanigans the get together will attempt to play to keep away from paying,” Gruenberg mentioned.
The $151,000 in prices, filed individually on June 1, embody $42,000 in deposition prices and 4 specialists paid a complete of $50,000. (Plus $123 for parking, $247 for Uber/Lyft rides and $848 for “trial lunch.”)
What Gruenberg can’t calculate, nevertheless, is how a lot he may need made had the Maas case not taken a lot time.
“, circumstances used to come back to trial inside a few 12 months and a 12 months and a half,” he mentioned. “And this case was near 4 years.”
He added: “I’m turning down circumstances due to how busy we’re, and the Maas case stored us very busy. … I’m turning down work in reliance on getting paid.”