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Judge: $178 million reasonable bankruptcy tab for Detroit

Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes today agreed that the nearly $178 million the city of Detroit paid its attorneys, financial analysts and other consultants was a reasonable charge. In a 48-page opinion released today, Rhodes wrote the city had met its requirement to show “all amounts to be paid by the debtor or by any person for services or expenses in the case or incident to the plan have been fully disclosed and are reasonable.”

Among the fees charged:

  • Jones Day law firm, representing the city, $57.9 million
  • Miller Buckfire, an investment banking firm, $22.8 million
  • Ernst & Young, financial analysts, $20.2 million
  • Conway MacKenzie, restructuring experts, $17.3 million

The city also paid about $26 million in expenses for the Official Committee of Retirees, which represented pensioners. The Committee’s law firm, Denton’s, billed $15.4 million.

In his opinion, Rhodes noted the state of Michigan picked up about $5.3 million of the city’s total legal costs, making the total bill about $183.2 million. He also wrote that seven of the professional firms paid by the city filed briefs that supported the reasonableness of fees. Just one individual filed an objection to them.

As he did when he approved the city’s Plan of Adjustment, Rhodes in his decision on the fees again praised the attorneys and other professionals, crediting their work in the case:

It is perhaps too easy now to fast-forward through the play-back that is necessary to comprehend the magnitude of the accomplishments of the professionals in this case. But now is the time to appreciate and credit that accomplishment and all of the effort and skill of those professionals in achieving it. The City is now on a path to success precisely because of the expertise, skill, commitment, endurance, personal sacrifice, civility and proficiency of all of the professionals in the case, including most certainly those whose fees are subject to review in this opinion.

2.12.15 Fees Decision

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