An investment group victimized by Scott Rothstein's $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme has asked a Florida federal judge to award it nearly half a million dollars in legal fees as a result of discovery violations by TD Bank and its counsel during a trial earlier this year. Coquina Investments was awarded $67 million in compensatory and punitive damages by a federal jury that faulted TD Bank for its frelationship with Rothstein's massive Ponzi scheme. After the trial, it was discovered that several crucial documents in TD Bank's possession had been withheld or altered in what Coquina attorney David Mandel referred to as "Rambo litigation tactics." Coquina filed several motions for sanctions, which United States District Court Judge Martha G. Cooke granted earlier this month. As part of the relief ordered, Judge Cooke ordered that Coquina's legal fees and expenses incurred as a result of these discovery failures were to be paid by TD Bank and its counsel, Greenberg Traurig.
In a filing this evening, Coquina submitted its request for attorney's fees, arguing that it was entitled to nearly $500,000 in fees and costs brought about by TD Bank's gaffes. Mandel's firm, Mandel & Mandel, accounts for nearly $300,000 of the amount, while Washington, D.C. firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher ("Gibson Dunn") accounts for the remainder. Florida federal courts have determined that fee determinations are calculated using the "lodestar method", which multiplies a reasonable hourly rate by the number of hours reasonably expended by counsel.
While affidavits submitted in support of the request have been filed under seal, the motion makes it clear that the rates charged by Gibson Dunn, while assumedly higher than those typically charged by attorneys practicing in South Florida, are warranted "as a sanction for litigation misconduct [and serve] the important purpose of deterring future misconduct..." Gibson Dunn's expertise in this area of law, argues Mandel, warranted the premium involved in securing their representation.
Upon review of the submissions, Judge Cooke has the authority to adjust the award upward or downward based on a variety of judicially-created factors. It is unknown whether TD Bank or Greenberg Traurig will object to the amount.
A copy of the fee motion is here.
A copy of Coquina's Motion for Sanctions is here.
Additional coverage of the Rothstein Ponzi scheme is here.