IN RE GYPSUM CASES
386 F.Supp. 959 (1974)
In re GYPSUM CASES.
Civ. No. 46414-A AJZ.
United States District Court, N. D. California.
August 19, 1974.
Frederick P. Furth, John H. Boone, San Francisco, Cal., liaison counsel for plaintiffs.
Samuel H. Seymour, Williams, Connolly & Califano, and Joseph D. Tydings, Danzansky, Dickey, Tydings, Quint & Gordon, Washington D.C., for first owner-builder class.
Mitchell A. Kramer, Philadelphia, Pa., and Farella, Braun & Martel, San Francisco, Cal., for dealer-wholesaler class.
Harvey S. Kronfeld, Mesirov, Gelman, Jaffe & Levin, Philadelphia, Pa., for applicator-subcontractor class.
William C. Barnard, Sommer, Tinkham, Barnard & Freiberger, Indianapolis, Ind., for general contractor class.
Lee A. Freeman, Freeman, Freeman & Salzman, Chicago, Ill., and Josef D. Cooper, San Francisco, Cal., for governmental class.
ORDER DIRECTING PAYMENT OF ATTORNEYS' FEES
ZIRPOLI, District Judge.
After duly noticed evidentiary hearings held on April 22, 23 and 25, 1974, the court is prepared to fix and direct the payment of attorneys' fees in this antitrust litigation, in which, probably more than in any other such litigation, the congressional objective of private antitrust enforcement was realized.1 To achieve this result it took seven years of vigorously contested litigation involving a nationwide price fixing conspiracy on the part of the major manufacturers of gypsum products — litigation initiated and prosecuted throughout all these years without benefit of any governmental assistance whatsoever.2
Under such circumstances, the attorneys for their able and arduous efforts in litigation involving complex and novel issues of substantial magnitude and doubtful success and undertaken at substantial financial risk on a contingency basis are clearly entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees commensurate with the benefits conferred upon purchasers of gypsum products. The purchasers of such products who benefited from this litigation might otherwise have been denied any protection or benefit whatsoever, since their claims individually would for the most part hardly justify the time and expense of litigation.
While counsel are entitled to adequate attorneys' fees commensurate
with the fund created and the prevention of future corporate abuse in the gypsum industry (see footnote 1, supra), they seem to have forgotten that the equity power of the court to award attorneys' fees and thus reward them as vindicators of public policy is definitely limited by the caution that such awards, though they shall not be niggardly, must be reasonable attorneys' fees, no more and no less. Otherwise the recompense would overshadow the result achieved and diminish the settlement fund to the point where the individual class member obtains only a token recovery.
In the instant litigation, the applications for attorneys' fees filed by twenty-eight petitioners total in excess of $20,000,000, an exaggerated and untenable figure which only serves to make more difficult and more distasteful the exercise of the court's discretion in the evaluation of these claims. The resultant evaluations will probably prove to be totally satisfactory to no one.
Mindful that "[f]ew subjects associated with the class action device have generated as much critical commentary in recent years as the matter of attorneys' fees", Alpine Pharmacy v. Chas. Pfizer, 481 F.2d 1045, 1049 (2d Cir. 1973), the court has separately reviewed, analyzed and evaluated each of the claims. In so doing, it has reviewed the various tabulations of attorneys' fees and the guidelines suggested by counsel in their respective memoranda in support of their applications and the record made at the evidentiary hearing thereon, and indeed the record made throughout the entire history of this litigation.