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Apple not happy that court-appointed monitor in e-book antitrust case charges $1,100 an hour


Apple this past October became tethered to a court appointed external monitor tasked with overseeing Apple's antitrust compliance. The court appointment stemmed from Apple being found guilty of conspiring with an assortment of book publishers to artificially raise the price of e-books across the industry.

The monitor chosen to keep an eye on Apple was former Assistant US Attorney Michael Bromwich. Handpicked by US District Judge Denise Cote, Bromwich's role entails him working within Apple to help maintain the company's compliance with antitrust law. Notably, Bromwich's legal fees, per Cote's orders, must be footed by Apple.

Only thing is, Bromwich's fees have turned out to be astronomical.

According to a report in Bloomberg, Apple this past week filed a motion asserting that Bromwich's fees are exorbitant and unprecedented.

All told, Bromwich is charging Apple $1,100 an hour, a rate higher than what Apple has paid out to lawyers in any of its previous litigation matters. During his first two weeks on the job, Bromwich billed Apple a whopping $138,432. Indeed, $1,100 an hour is more expensive than what top lawyers at top legal firms across the country charge for doing complex legal work.

Apple's filing reads in part:

Mr. Bromwich appears to be simply taking advantage of the fact that there is no competition here or, in his view, any ability on the part of Apple, the subject of the authority, to push back on his demands.

So why is Bromwich's fee so high?

Well as it turns out, Bromwich is charging Apple a 15% administrative fee on top of his legal duties. He's also charging Apple for other attorneys he's hired to help him carry out his job.

The Bloomberg report further relays:

Apple also objected in its filing to proposals by Cote to allow Bromwich to interview company personnel without counsel present and to report to her without Apple lawyers present.

Those conditions "impermissibly expand the scope of the monitorship," according to Apple's filing.

In my view, it's really hard to see this as anything more than a shameless money grab.

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