Why Wage & Hour Class Action Lawsuits are so Attractive to Plaintiffs’ Lawyers

November 15, 2007

A state court judge ordered Wal-Mart to pay over $36.5 million in attorneys’ fees to the plaintiffs’ lawyers who represented the 186,000 present and former Pennsylvania employees in a class action lawsuit filed in state court. The total hit to Wal-Mart was $187.8 million which breaks down as follows:

  • $78.8 million in a jury verdict for off the clock work by employees.
  • $62.3 million in liquidated damages under PWPCL.
  • $10.2 million in interest.
  • $36.5 in attorney’s fees and costs to the Plaintiff’s lawyers.
  • $?? in Wal-Mart legal fees to its own legal counsel.

The employee class members were ordered to pay their lawyers $12.7 million in fees out of the damage award of $141.1 million plus $10.2 in interest. The average employee award for the 186,000 class members appears to be $745.16 (less taxes and withholding). 

Michael Donovan of Donovan Searles, LLC was the lead plaintiffs counsel. As reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Donovan’s firm will not get the entire $49.2 million. He and his firm were assisted by other attorneys across the nation who share discovery strategies and expertise in these large and data-intensive cases. All together, 26 attorneys and 17 paralegals worked five years on the plaintiffs’ case.” 

In awarding the fees, Judge Mark I Bernstein noted that “Plaintiffs’ success has delivered a message to employees and employers across the commonwealth, which proclaims that work without pay is not tolerated in Pennsylvania." Appeals to the award are pending.