Lawyer wants $34 million for working 118 hours on Florida's case against tobacco companies
Two high-profile Florida lawyers filed suit on Thursday against nationally known lawyer Alan Dershowitz, alleging he is demanding a never-promised bonus for his role in Florida's legal assault on cigarette companies.
Bob Montgomery and Sheldon Schlesinger, who both spearheaded the tobacco litigation, are asking a judge to determine whether Dershowitz is legally entitled to a bonus for the 118 hours he says he worked.
In addition, the Harvard law professor has failed to provide any hourly billing statements to back up how much work he did, according to the Palm Beach County Circuit Court complaint.
J. Michael Burman, attorney for Montgomery and Schlesinger, said Dershowitz wants a 1 percent cut of the $3.4 billion awarded to attorneys responsible for Florida's $11.3 billion tobacco settlement. That would come out to $34 million.
"He wants a lot of money, and he's not entitled to it," Burman said.
Dershowitz could not be reached for comment Thursday night.
Dershowitz, whose clients have included O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and Leona Helmsley, acted as a consultant on appellate court filings, according to Thursday's lawsuit.
Days after the Florida team of attorneys got one of the largest awards for legal fees in history, Dershowitz wrote to one of them: "You assured me that if you won a significant judgment, there would be a significant bonus for me. I think your great victory certainly qualifies as significant, and I am counting on you to do the right thing by me."
Montgomery, of West Palm Beach, and Schlesinger, of Fort Lauderdale, allege in their court action that they think their only obligation was to pay Dershowitz on an hourly basis.
If Dershowitz can provide an accounting of his legal work, the South Florida lawyers said they are willing to pay the additional money.
If Dershowitz can't justify his demand for hourly fees, then he should have to reimburse Montgomery and Schlesinger accordingly, the complaint states.