Good Morning To You Prods. v. Warner/Chappell, No. 13-4460 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 16, 2016) [Doc. 360].
In the "Happy Birthday" class action case, the Court awarded class counsel attorney's fees of over $4.6 million under the Copyright Act. Plaintiffs requested that the Court apply the percentage method, which courts often use to calculate fees in common-fund cases. Applying the percentage method, courts typically calculate 25% of the fund as the "benchmark" for a reasonable fee award, providing adequate explanation in the record of any "special circumstances" justifying a departure.. Then, Courts use a rough calculation of the lodestar as a cross-check to assess the reasonableness of the percentage award. Plaintiffs requested an upward departure from the 25% benchmark. In considering this request, the Court considered all relevant circumstances, including: (1) the results obtained for the class, (2) effort expended by counsel, (3) counsel’s experience, (4) counsel’s skill, (5) the complexity of the issues, (6) the risks of non-payment assumed by counsel, and (7) the comparison of the benchmark with counsel’s lodestar.