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US v. Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc., 09-2684

By FindLaw Staff on October 20, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Challenge to a district court's judgment limiting an attorney's legal fees in representation of whistleblower clients in government's investigation of a shipping company for discharging oil

US v. Overseas Shipholding Group, Inc., 09-2684, concerned a challenge to a district court's decision limiting an attorney's legal fees under two contingent fee agreements while representing two whistleblowers, in proceedings arising out of a government investigation in six judicial districts into allegations that a shipping company had for years engaged in the practice of discharging oil from its vessels in American waters and falsifying mandatory ship records to conceal the discharges, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.

The court affirmed in part in concluding that the district court did not err in finding the attorney's contractual fee amounts with respect to both clients to be excessive.  However, the court reversed in part in concluding that the district court abused its discretion in disallowing any fee from the representation of the second client, and as such, the attorney should receive a fee of $25,000 for each client.

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