Both sides appeal attorney fee ruling in Restaurant.com case
(Left) A $25 Restaurant.com gift card.
26-Jan-17 The judge himself believed litigation was over but appeals have been filed, contesting the award of attorneys fees to plaintiff attorneys who after six years won their lawsuit against Restaurant.com.
The Arlington Heights company, owned by at least one River North resident, learned last November it must pay two New Jersey residents, Larissa Shelton and Gregory Bohus, just $1,100 for selling them gift certificates with fine print in violation of state law. Attorneys fees, however, were more steep. The eleven attorneys at three New Jersey law firms who worked on the case for Shelton and Bohus asked for $733,609.82 but on December 21, United States District Judge Michael Shipp granted them $190,648.60.
Lawyers with The Wolf Law Firm, Lite DePalma Greenberg, and The Law Office of Christopher J. McGinn submitted hourly rates ranging from $310 to $750 but Shipp called the proposed fees excessive.
Billing statements, he said, include multiple instances where counsel used the most costly attorneys on the matter to perform associate level or paralegal tasks.
After six years of discord, this litigation has finally drawn to its conclusion, wrote Shipp (right) optimistically in his ruling.
Both sides have filed notices of appeal first, Restaurant.com on January 6, through its law firm, Gibbons P.C. of Newark, then attorneys for Shelton and Bohus, filing a notice of cross-appeal on January 20.
The case has been argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals and New Jersey Supreme Court. It was a class action at one time but after being dismissed twice and appealed twice, only Shelton and Bohus remained as plaintiffs. Their part of the lawsuit is settled but new lawsuits by other parties with the same claim could still be filed.
Restaurant.com is owned by Dr. Kenneth Chessick, a lawyer who lives in Washoe County in Nevada and Marina City in Chicago. His wife, Ellen Chessick, is president of Marina Towers Condominium Association and is listed as vice president of Restaurant.com in a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012, though more recently, she has denied being an owner of the company.
Last August, Restaurant.com announced it is now selling gift certificates and cards to more than 62,000 restaurants and other partners nationwide.