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American Airlines Lawyers Seek ‘Very High’ Fees After Winning $1 Antitrust Case

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Airline entitled to fees after years of litigation – lawyers Skadden for Saber team opposes awarding any fees

Author: Mike Scarcella

(Reuters) – American Airlines Group Inc is seeking to recover more than a decade of “substantial” legal fees from Saber Corp after securing a $1 antitrust judgment against its flight booking service in May.

American American’s lawyers at O’Melveny & Myers argued Friday in a lawsuit filed in federal court in Manhattan that the Fort Worth, Texas-based air carrier should be awarded fees after 11 years of litigation.

Neither side appealed the jury’s verdict.

U.S. District Judge Lorna Schofield must first decide whether the American is entitled to the fees at all. Americana’s filing did not specify the amount, but O’Melveny’s partner, Andrew Frackman, previously described it in court as “very, very significant.”

Given the length of the proceedings, which included two trials and an appeal, the American’s remuneration could have been expected to amount to at least tens of millions of dollars.

An experienced partner at O’Melveny can bill $1,200 or more per hour, U.S. court records show in other cases. According to a report by American Lawyer, the average partner salary at 700-lawyer O’Melveny in 2021 was approximately $2.6 million.

A representative for American did not immediately provide comment Monday, and a Saber spokesman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Saber, based in Southlake, Texas, is the nation’s largest owner and operator of a network used by travel agencies to find and book airline flights.

Saber will object to the airline’s request for fees. It said Lawyers America should get nothing because the company won a verdict with a face value of $1.

The lawsuit against Saber was filed in 2011 by US Airways, which later merged with American. The complaint accused Saber of overcharging and restricting competition in the flight booking market.

American sought $300 million in damages during the trial, during which the team of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom defended Saber and disputed the claims.

The trial was the second in the case after a 2016 jury verdict was overturned by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Few cases require this much effort over such a long period of time,” Frackman wrote in his fee request.

In July, Skadden partner Patrick Fitzgerald, representing Saber, told the court that “given the amount of fees we expect to receive from US Airways, we believe it makes sense to continue settlement talks.”

The documents show that Saber and American tried for weeks to resolve the fee dispute out of court but failed to reach a resolution.

The case is US Airways Inc, on behalf of American Airlines Inc v. Saber Holdings Corp, United States District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 1:11-cv-02725-LGS-JLC.

On behalf of US Airways: Andrew Frackman of O’Melveny & Myers; R. Paul Yetter with Yetter Coleman

For Saber: Patrick Fitzgerald and Boris Bershteyn of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom

Read more:

American Airlines receives favorable antitrust verdict and $1 in damages

Partner Compensation Monitoring: O’Melveny’s Leviss, currently deputy general counsel of the SEC

American Airlines Wins Key Ruling in Antitrust Case Against Saber