The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

October 25, 2013

Franchise fee lawyers will get $7M

DES MOINES — A judge awarded $7 million in fees to attorneys who represented a woman in a lawsuit against the city of Des Moines for charging improper franchise fees.

Thursday’s ruling by Judge Joel Novak was less than half of the $15 million sought by attorneys Brian Stoltze, Brad Schroeder and Steve Brick. Novak complimented the men and credited them with working in excess of 10,000 hours on the case and risking losing millions of dollars in compensation for that time. However, he concluded since the money comes out of taxpayers’ pockets, he must err on the side of fairness to the citizens.

The men represented Lisa Kragnes, a Des Moines woman who sued the city in 2004 after she questioned the franchise fee on her MidAmerican Energy bill. A Polk County District Court judge ordered the city to refund nearly $40 million in 2009, saying it was overcharging customers and had collected what amounted to an “illegal tax.”

The case twice has been appealed by the city to the Iowa Supreme Court and last year, the U.S. Supreme Court declined Des Moines’ request for a hearing.

The attorneys had requested about 37 percent of the $40 million judgment. Novak awarded them about 18 percent, or $7 million in fees. He also approved expenses of $517,444, and costs of $74,867. Kragnes will receive $7,500.

The city opposed the attorney fees and costs request.

“We’re disappointed that it was as high as it was but we do think that it’s closer to a more fair and equitable fee,” City Attorney Jeff Lester said.

On Monday, the City Council held a hearing to issue up to $42 million in bonds to pay the judgment. The city will later decide how to repay the borrowed money. The city could increase the franchise fee, which would require approval of voters. It also could increase property taxes or cut city services.

Text Only
National News
  • mama.jpg What we get wrong about millennials living at home

    If the media is to be believed, America is facing a major crisis. "Kids," some age 25, 26, or even 30 years old, are living out of their childhood bedrooms and basements at alarmingly high numbers. The hand-wringing overlooks one problem: It's all overblown.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obamacare hit by ruling, but subsidies to continue

    A federal appeals court delivered a potentially serious setback to President Barack Obama's health care law Tuesday, imperiling billions of dollars in subsidies for many low- and middle-income people who bought policies.

    July 22, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 22, 2014

  • Obama gives protection to gay, transgender workers WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Monday gave employment protection to gay and transgender workers in the federal government and its contracting agencies, after being convinced by advocates of what he called the “irrefutable rightness of yo

    July 22, 2014

  • Starved Pennsylvania 7-year-old weighed only 25 pounds

    A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy authorities described as being so underweight he looked like a human skeleton has been released from the hospital.

    July 21, 2014

  • Hopkins to pay $190M after doc taped pelvic exams

    Johns Hopkins Health System will pay $190 million to more than 8,000 women whose bodies may have been videotaped or photographed by a gynecologist using a pen-like camera during pelvic exams.

    July 21, 2014

  • Lawmaker: Texas to send 1,000 guardsmen to border

    Gov. Rick Perry, a vocal critic of the White House's response to the surge of children and families entering the U.S. illegally, plans to deploy as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border, a local lawmaker confirmed Monday.

    July 21, 2014

  • Sparring justices find little disagreement at the opera

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg revealed a different view of U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday when she described about her passion for opera, one she shares with Justice Antonin Scalia.

    July 21, 2014

  • Second chance? Perry in Iowa again courting voters

    Texas Gov. Rick Perry is visiting Iowa for the fourth time in eight months, hoping for a second chance to win over Republican voters who delivered him a stinging caucus loss when he ran for president two years ago.

    July 21, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

     

    July 21, 2014

AP Video
Facebook