Plaintiff’s Counsel Recovery in a Derivative Case Settling Under the Transitive Property Limited to Actual Benefit to Plaintiffs
By: Nicholas Froio and David Noll
In Baker v. Sadiq, C.A. No. 9464-VCL (Del. Ch. August 16, 2016), the Court held that the proper calculation of an attorney’s contingency fee for a derivative action settled using the transitive property is based upon the actual settlement value. Baker concerned fees owed to plaintiff’s counsel (“Counsel”) after the settlement of a derivative action by minority shareholders for misappropriation by the majority shareholder. The settlement of those claims was a buyout of the minority shareholders at a better pro rata value than could be expected from the derivative action. By holding that the appropriate measure of fees is based upon actual cash payments, Plaintiff’s counsel received approximately one ninth of its expected award to be collected from an entity with no assets.