Bankruptcy Lawyer Bills Detroit $34,000 for a Reason You Won’t Believe

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One of Detroit’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorneys billed the city nearly $34,000 — just so he could travel to and from his vacation home in Florida.

According to a December 3 Detroit News article, David Heiman, a partner at law firm Jones Day who charges $1,075 per hour, also billed the city for the cost of private cars that would bring him between Detroit and his Cleveland, OH home as well as transport between Florida airports and his Fort Myers vacation home.

Heiman’s fees are currently under scrutiny in an ongoing federal investigation looking at how reasonable Detroit’s lawyers and consultants were in bestowing more than $140 million in legal fees upon the city for their help with filing bankruptcy.

According to the Detroit News, Heiman was one of the highest-paid attorneys in the Motor City’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy timeline. And while his hourly rate isn’t that out of line for a municipal bankruptcy, the $33,837 he charged Detroit for traveling to and from his Florida home is higher than the average pension of Detroit’s retired police officers and firefighters ($30,607) and nearly double the average pension for other retired city employees.

Heiman’s fees likely frustrate many of Detroit’s public employees — but Wayne State University law professor Laura Bartell told the Detroit News they are “nickels and dimes” to the $52.3 million total that Jones Day has charged for its Chapter 11 bankruptcy help.

And, according to Bartell, a highly-qualified Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney like Heiman would typically charge for travel expenses even if he just had to attend a meeting.

“If he was necessary and that’s where he was located and had to come to Detroit, then had had to come from there,” she said. “If this were not a bankruptcy case and this lawyer was at his vacation home and he had to go to some meeting, he would charge for that plane trip.”

What are your thoughts on the legal fees Detroit will have to pay its Chapter 11 bankruptcy attorneys now that the bankruptcy case is over? Share with us by leaving a comment below. Visit here for more.

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