By Basil Katz
NEW YORK, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Two New York lawyers can get
almost $291,000 in legal fees from the city of White Plains
after obtaining a $30,000 settlement for their clients in a
false arrest case, a U.S. appeals court ruled.
In an opinion on Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the 2nd
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said that while the
award to attorneys Michael Spiegel and Scott Korenbaum "could
give pause," a lower court judge did not abuse his discretion in
The case stems from the April 2004 arrest of three women on
charges including resisting arrest and assault after they asked
White Plains police officers why they were roughly questioning
one of their friends, the opinion said. The police used
"excessive force" in arresting the women, the opinion said.
The three women were cleared at trial. They subsequently
sued the city and the police officers for false arrest and
malicious prosecution. That case settled after four years of
litigation for $30,000 before trial in U.S. District Court in
Judge Robert Patterson, who oversaw the dispute, in 2011
also approved $290,997.94 in attorneys' fees and litigation
costs for the women's lawyers to be paid by the city of White
Plains. The city appealed the award, saying the judge had abused
his discretion and that the fees were disproportionate to the
Circuit Judges Reena Raggi, Peter Hall and Susan Carney,
however, said fees could not be reduced just because they
appeared to be disproportionate. The per curiam opinion also
noted that the city had never objected to the lawyers' hourly
"While the total amount of fees and the hourly rates charged
by counsel in this case could give pause, defendants neither
object to those rates nor demonstrate any abuse of discretion
relating to the calculation of the fee award," the appeals
Attorneys for the city of White Plains and for the two
lawyers were not immediately available to comment on the ruling.
The case is Deja Barbour v. City of White Plains, 2nd U.S.
Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-2229.
For the plaintiffs: Michael Spiegel of New York.
For the city of White Plains: Joseph Maria of White Plains.
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