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In re Land

argued: May 24, 1978.

IN THE MATTER OF MEADE LAND AND DEVELOPMENT CO., INC., BANKRUPT, EASTGATE ENTERPRISES, INC., CREDITOR, APPELLANT


ON APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA. (D.C. Bankruptcy No. 69-357).

Aldisert, Gibbons and Higginbotham, Circuit Judges.

Author: Gibbons

Opinion OF THE COURT

GIBBONS, Circuit Judge.

For the second time an unsecured creditor of Meade Land and Development Co., Inc., appeals from an order of the district court respecting fees awarded to counsel for the receiver and trustee of that bankrupt corporation. In the previous appeal we vacated an order affirming a bankruptcy judge's award in the amount of $50,000 and remanded "for a redetermination [of the award], calculated, insofar as pertinent, on the basis of those hours which can be supported by records." In re Meade Land & Dev. Co., Inc., 527 F.2d 280, 283 (3d Cir. 1975) (footnote omitted). Recognizing that time records might be unavailable for some of the services rendered, we said:

When the Bankruptcy Judge finds that good cause exists for the nonproduction of the records, he may then rely on some alternate form of proof along with his own articulated knowledge of the matter.

Id. 283-84. In the record which we reviewed in the prior appeal, the petitioner claimed to have expended 208.5 hours as attorney for the receiver and 334.5 hours as attorney for the trustee. Approximately half the time was roughly itemized, while the balance was accounted for by the general statement:

The schedules of services performed by counsel does [ sic ] not reflect all conferences held with interested parties, legal research, telephone calls, correspondence, conferences with the Court and visits to the site in Warrington Township . . . .

We held that such a general statement would not justify a fee award. So that no one could mistake our meaning, we reiterated:

We stress that it is the attorney's obligation to keep and submit to the court time records supporting an application for compensation. And, absent unusual circumstances, it is the court's independent obligation to give credit only where there are such supporting documents . . . .

Id. 284.

On remand to the bankruptcy court, the petitioner filed supplemental petitions roughly itemizing additional time above that itemized in the first fee application. Bankruptcy Judge King found records adequate to verify 108.5 hours spent as attorney for the receiver and 115.5 hours spent as attorney for the trustee. Allowing an hourly rate of $100, he awarded $22,400.

Petitioner sought review of the bankruptcy judge's order in the district court. That court affirmed the allowance of $100 per hour for the 224 hours found to be justified by contemporaneous or reconstructed time records. But it also found 125 additional ...


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