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Court of Special Appeals Quotes Andrew Jay Graham’s Expert Opinions

Founding principal Andrew Jay Graham was retained by the Maryland Department of Human Resources to testify as an expert witness in opposition to a fee award sought by a party who successfully sued the Department for failing to process assistance benefits in a timely fashion. Pursuant to the applicable statute, because the plaintiff prevailed in the lawsuit, the plaintiff was entitled to request an award of legal fees. A consortium of public-interest firms, as well as a private, national law firm, represented the plaintiff on a pro-bono basis. A total of fifteen different attorneys worked on the case, and the private law firm submitted a bill of more than $950,000 in connection with the plaintiff’s fee petition. The Department contended that the requested fee award was excessive. Although the trial judge awarded fees, the amount represented only 55% of the total award that the plaintiff had requested. The plaintiff’s lawyers appealed, arguing that the trial judge erred in granting the reduced fee award. In an opinion issued March 14, 2014, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed the reduced award, observing that the trial court had before it “affidavits of highly regarded members of the Maryland Bar,” including one “submitted by Andrew J. Graham . . . [that] is particularly germane to the sole basis of the court’s decision to reduce appellants’ fee award and provides context to the court’s decision” to award substantially less than the amount requested by the plaintiff. The Court of Special Appeals quoted heavily from Mr. Graham’s opinions. Mr. Graham’s expert opinions on the fairness and reasonableness of attorneys’ fees were also cited by the Court of Appeals of Maryland in Diamond Point Plaza Ltd. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 400 Md. 718 (2007).