(Bloomberg) -- Proposed attorneys’ fees amounting to 30% of Deutsche Bank AG’s $75 million settlement of a proposed class action by Jeffrey Epstein victims were called “a little rich” by the judge who must approve the deal.
US District Judge Jed Rakoff made the remark at a so-called fairness hearing Thursday in Manhattan federal court. He said the lawyers for the victims, led by David Boies and Bradley Edwards, had done “excellent work” but that the fee “strikes me as a little rich in the circumstances.”
Boies responded that the lawyers had performed a “tremendous amount of work” in the case, even before it was filed in November. In court documents, Boies and Edwards said the effort began in 2021 and involved more than 25 lawyers, over 50 witness interviews and hundreds of hours spent communicating with victims.
Contingency fees of 30% or more aren’t unusual in class actions suits, where the lawyers run the risk of getting nothing at all if they lose the case. Judges often reduce the percentage, though, when a judgment or settlement is extremely large.
Boies, who has previously represented Epstein victims on a pro bono basis in suits against individuals with ties to Epstein, including Ghislaine Maxwell and Prince Andrew, is also representing Epstein victims in a proposed class action against JPMorgan Chase & Co. The US bank is still litigating the claims and the Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon was deposed on May 26 by lawyers including Boies.
Deutsche Bank agreed in May to settle the lawsuit accusing the institution of facilitating Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. It continues to deny any participation in Epstein’s venture. The German bank became Epstein’s main financial institution after JPMorgan, where he had banked since 1998, dropped him as a client in 2013.
At Thursday’s hearing, Rakoff also asked for a clearer definition of who would might be included as a class member eligible to receive a share of the settlement. Boies said his team would place newspaper ads in Poland, Ukraine and Russia to try to reach women who Epstein abused between 2013 and 2019.
“During the years in question, Jeffrey Epstein’s focus in terms of women trafficked shifted from what it had been in earlier years,” said Boies. “He was focused on women, girls in Eastern Europe.”
The cases are Jane Doe 1 v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 22-cv-10019; Jane Doe 1 v. Deutsche Bank, 22-cv-10018, and USVI v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, 22-cv-10904-UA, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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