Bill Cosby arrives for his sentencing hearing at the Montgomery County Courthouse, Sept. 25, 2018, in Norristown. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Bill Cosby, now serving a prison sentence for sexual assault, is suing Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan over millions of dollars in legal fees.
It's not the comedian's first battle with a law firm over fees. His former counsel, Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis, is suing him for unpaid fees related to his criminal case.
In this most recent matter, Cosby filed a petition last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asking the court to vacate an arbitration award in Quinn Emanuel's favor from earlier this year. The filing included a copy of Cosby's original demand for arbitration, dated July 2017, which said the firm billed for more than 11,000 hours and $8.55 million in a nine-month period in 2015 and 2016.
Cosby paid over $4.3 million to the firm in 2015 and 2016 individually and through his insurer, AIG, court documents said, and Quinn Emanuel sought to recover over $4.8 million in the arbitration.
Cosby now alleges that the JAMS arbitration panel "exceeded its authority by allowing Quinn Emanuel to retain $4,328,170.78 in fees and awarding Quinn Emanuel an additional $2,390,870.00 in attorney’s fees." The arbitration panel also awarded Quinn Emanuel arbitration fees of $190,313, in the January 2019 final award.
Retired Superior Court Judges Carl West and Peter Lichtman and retired U.S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian served on the arbitration panel.
The new state court petition alleges that Quinn Emanuel violated its ethical obligations to Cosby. In the earlier arbitration filing, Cosby alleged that the firm inefficiently staffed his matters, noting that there were 38 billed professionals on his matters, including 28 lawyers.
Christopher Tayback and Joseph Sarles led the Quinn Emanuel team and were admitted to represent Cosby in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. The firm withdrew its representation in July 2016.
Cosby also alleged that the firm charged "unconscionable fees," citing hourly rates of up to $1,175 for some lawyers, $300 for paralegals and $365 for law clerks. Cosby alleged the firm made "risky and ineffective strategy decisions."
Cosby also alleged in the original complaint that Quinn Emanuel did not disclose potential conflicts of interest arising from its dual representation of Cosby and insurer AIG.
With regard to the arbitration specifically, Cosby alleged that his rights were prejudiced because the panel refused to postpone the arbitration until after criminal proceedings concluded. "As a result, petitioner was forced to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights during his deposition in this matter," the petition said.
Cosby was represented by Jeremy Osher and Steven Kuehl of California firm Boren Osher & Luftman in the arbitration and in the new LA case. They did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
A group of lawyers from Quinn Emanuel—Duane Lyons, Jeffery McFarland, Grant Maxwell and Claire Hausman—represented the firm in the arbitration, court filings show. A spokeswoman for Quinn Emanuel did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
To Avoid Fee Disputes, Don’t Fear the ‘Sticker Shock’
More Bad News for Bill Cosby: Law Firm Sues for More Than $282K in Legal Fees
Bill Cosby Swaps Defense Lawyers Again for Criminal Appeal, Legal Fee Suit
Quinn Emanuel Withdraws From Cosby Criminal Case