Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Adam Karp does it again!

A judge has almost doubled what the city of Des Moines must pay to the owners of Rosie, a dog shot and killed by police in 2010. He added $50,000 in attorney’s costs and fees to the $51,000 the city had agreed to pay the owners. 

Read more in today's Seattle Times...

And here are some excerpts from a transcript that should hopefully go down in history as an animal law classic:

(Background: On Jan. 29, 2013, the Wrights accepted an Offer of Judgment for $51,000.  Defendants continued to haggle over certain points and filed a brief.)

On Apr. 1, 2013, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington James Robart asked for oral argument. He began by asking defense counsel to respond to four issues: (1) that the Wrights failed to comply with a condition precedent (i.e., not dismissing the officers before judgment was entered); (2) the lodestar multiplier for the exceptional result; (3) the impact solicited donations have, if any, on the motion for fees; and (4) that the officers were not subject to a criminal charge.

On the first issue, the court said: "It seems to me that this is your language. You wrote it, and it doesn't put any temporal dimension to it. And now you are saying he is in violation of something that doesn't exist."

On the second issue: "And I believe that a limited lodestar addition is appropriate. And, therefore, I am ordering 1.3 times the $38,000 number, for total fees and costs, inclusive of everything, of $50,162.78."

On the third issue: "I don't believe that the solicitation of public donations makes any difference in this. Counsel's argument under the Corder case ignores the fact that what the court said was, 'non-settling defendant is entitled to offset attorney's fees owed by the amount already paid by settling defendants.' That is a double recovery rule, and that is not the situation we have here, where people wish to contribute to a fund to finance litigation in support of the principles that they believe in, namely, don't shoot dogs."

On the fourth issue: "It is not uncommon in this court for a person who brings a 1983 claim against the police to simultaneously file an investigation charge and ask the police accountability board to investigate and then use that as evidence in their 1983 action. That happens all the time. And so I don't think I follow your argument on this. ... You challenged that as unconstitutional and got slapped down immediately. But what other mechanism does someone have when they believe that the police are not enforcing the law, they are operating above the law? And now you say, well, when they did that, that is completely outside the bounds of a claim against them."

On the issue of Mr. Karp's fee: "I have considered the question of hourly rates. And I was unimpressed with the claim that Mr. Karp ought to get paid the same as someone who is working for the City. I would suggest that Ms. Ragonesi is probably underpaid, most likely on a billing rate arrangement that is between her law firm and her client."

And defense counsel's argument in briefing that the Wrights failed in their "unsupported, unnecessary, and unsuccessful private criminal persecution against Officers Graddon and Wieland" drew this: "Persecutions, you know, let's go back in history here. The treatment of the Jews by the Pharoahs in Ancient Egypt, that was a persecution. What Nazi Germany did in the Third Reich, that is a persecution. The expulsion of the Acadian people out of Nova Scotia, that is considered a persecution. The treatment of the Aborigines in early Australia, that is a persecution. Ethnic cleansing is a persecution. When someone seeks to believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are attempting to bring these people to justice, that is not a persecution. If you read the word in the in the dictionary, it stands for a systematic attack based on a belief. What belief did the police have? I read your stuff carefully. The front page uses the words 'overreaching,' 'unjustified,' 'artificially inflated,' 'outrageous,' 'unsupported,' 'unnecessary,' 'unsuccessful,' and 'persecution.' Counsel, that is just terrible writing. It shows a lack of civility. And I am surprised at you, and I am disappointed. That is not how you conduct yourself around here. I mean, what are you trying to accomplish with those words?"

In conclusion, the court awarded $50,162.78 in fees and costs to be paid in fifteen days of his ruling. Within two days, the Wrights were then to dismiss the officers. 

On Apr. 15, 2013, the Washington Cities Insurance Authority paid $101,162.78.