Court-Appointed Antitrust Monitor Bills Apple $1,100 Per Hour

| Editorial

Apple v. Highway RobberJudge Denise Kote not only saddled Apple with a court-appointed outside attorney to monitor the company's antitrust compliance, she then picked the attorney she wanted—Michael Bromwich—without also establishing how much he would be paid. The result? After two weeks on the job, Mr. Bromwich is trying to charge Apple $1,100 per hour.

Adding insult to injury, Judge Cote has established rules that allow Mr. Bromwich to interview Apple employees without Apple's own attorneys present and then report to the judge without Apple's attorneys present.

Bloomberg reported that Apple is protesting Mr. Bromwich's epic rates, as well as the rules that Judge Cote set up. In court documents filed by Apple, the company characterized the US$138,432 bill Mr. Bromwich gave Apple for two weeks work as unprecedented.

"Of all known past Apple matters," the company wrote in its filing, there has never been a fee this high. This, coming from the company involved in dozens of lawsuits around the world—both as plaintiff and defendant—with many of those lawsuits involving top law firms.

"Mr. Bromwich appears to be simply taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here or, in his view, any ability on the part of Apple, the subject of his authority, to push back on his demands," the company wrote.

Part of the fee Mr. Bromwich is trying to charge includes a 15 percent "administrative fee," suggesting the attorney has mistaken himself for an airline or phone company. His defense for this fee is that he is technically billing his services through his own consultancy, rather than than through his own law firm, the Bromwich group.

You know, because that would make it OK.

Apple pointed out that the distinction is meaningless considering this same Bromwich Group issued a press release trumpeting his selection as Apple watch dog, saying that the press release was, "clearly meant to drum up more business." The company also called the administrative free, "unprecedented in Apple’s experience."

Included in this bill is the price of additional attorneys that Mr. Bromwich has taken it upon himself to assist in his monitoring of Apple's business. It's not clear if that was in his court-ordered mandate.

From the outside, the whole situation appears completely messed up, and in my seldom-humble opinion, Mr. Bromwich is shamelessly attempting to take advantage of the situation. If the courts are going to mandate an outside watcher for any company, surely the courts should carefully spell out what that watcher can do, who he or she can hire, and precisely how much they can charge.

To do otherwise invites precisely these kinds of shenanigans.

Even worse than the outrageous fees Mr. Bromwich is trying to charge are the rules that allow him to interview employees without counsel present and to then report to Judge Cote without Apple's attorneys present, either. Both rules seem to infringe on Apple's right to counsel.

If so, of course, either Judge Cote or a higher court will set things to rights, but in the meanwhile it remains perplexing.

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8 Comments Leave Your Own

wab95

Bryan:

You appear to persist in this notion that the world should be rational, or at least behave in a manner consistent with reason. I’d have thought that Wall Street would have cured you of this affliction by now, and if not the Street, then at least the chattering pundit class.

Sadly, I concur; this entire affair seems a travesty from every angle.

My own view is that it has become acceptable, due to Apple’s success to paradoxically proclaim Apple a failure, and moreover, to heap not merely invalid criticism, but unfair and burdensome penalties, as if to show that one is being both fair and impartial.

Perhaps sanity and reason can be found at appeal. Fairness might be a long shot.

ibuck

It’s amazing the level of scrutiny and type of treatment Apple is getting. Was Microsoft subjected to anything similar when the US Dept of Justice, or the European Commission, investigated them on monopoly charges? And yet, according to many reports, Apple has less than half the market in phones, tablets or computers.

Gary LearnTech

The point which strikes me as odd here is that the court-appointed monitor is not being paid from court funds.  But what do I know about things like that?

John Dingler, artist

The US’s increasingly Dickensonian society, as exemplified by such corporations as the Bromwich group, demands the $1,100/hr spying fees as it also demands more people move into homeless camps populated by the dispossessed who count themselves lucky if they have $1 for the day, which I see on my daily bicycle rides, down at the river bottom.

jameskatt

Bromwich is dirty.  He is a spy.

Bromwich is billing through his counseling services because he wants to be able to give data he finds to other companies.  If he billed as a lawyer, he would be bound by secrecy and would be prohibited from selling his information to others.

Samsung must be one of his clients.

Apple - at the very least - has to be able to videotape any session with him. The meetings must be on the Apple campus.  And if not with counsel, the meeting must be in a room where everything is videotaped.

nolatransplant

According to other articles I’ve read on the matter, this Mr. Bromwich doesn’t even have the expertise to be an outside anti-trust monitor, and thus he’s hiring additional attorneys to assist in the monitoring. Why he was even appointed as such is very perplexing. This whole case from judgement to monitoring reeks of backdoor deals.

jeff 1

while I agree that logic and reason appear to have nothing to do with anything here, this situation is completely f@cked up….

I would agree that he is some what hiding himself acting as a consultant instead of a lawyer that owns his own law firm.

and the judge giving him the ability to interview any employee without Apple counsel present seems very very very weird…..

and, while this isn’t a Oiiver Stone movie, I smell some sort of conspiracy going on here….

Apple should nail this a$$hole to the wall and to the California Bar Assoc.

gnasher729

If this company pays huge amounts of money to someone for writing their bills, that’s their problem and I can’t see why Apple should be paying for it. I’ve never received a bill for writing a bill. Even thinking of demanding money for writing a bill is idiotic and greedy.

If this company has to hire outside help because they are not competent at doing the job that they are paid for, that’s their problem and I can’t see why Apple should be paying for it. Would you pay an electrician his full rate and then pay his helper electrician as well who he has to call in because he doesn’t know how to do the job? That’s ridiculous.

I think Apple should tell the judge that someone is asking for considerably more money _for writing bills_ than this judge makes in salary.

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