Three years after Sunoco, Inc. was ordered to pay nearly $156 million for the oil it produced from an Oklahoma well, it has been ordered to pay another $500,000 in attorney fees in the continuing case and nearly twice as much in reimbursements.
The Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently awarded the fees to attorney Perry Cline who led the original 2020 lawsuit against the company. In 2020, the court awarded the class $80,691,486 in actual damages and $75 million in punitive damages.
But in the years since, Sunoco also filed six appeals with the Court of Appeals and five of them were dismissed along with a petition for a writ of mandamus. The sole surviving appeal was heard last week by the court.
As late as the end of February, some 60 letters from class members supporting Cline’s request for attorneys fees were received by the court. Cline told the court had already spent 800 hours on the case including taking the matter to trial. He cited his hourly wage was an average of $318.
“Given Cline’s extraordinary involvement, tenacity, and willingness to put the class first, the Court finds that $500,000 provide reasonable compensation for the time and effort he invested in the litigation,” wrote the court in its conclusion.
The Court also granted Cline’s request to be reimbursed litigation expenses of $850,000.
The original lawsuit involved Sunoco’s failure to pay interest to the owner of the well that produced the oil. The most recent ruling applied to the company’s failure to pay that interest to Cline and the class he represented.