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Dodgers’ Law Firms Should Have Fees Cut, U.S. Trustee Says

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Bankruptcy lawyers for the Los Angeles Dodgers should have their first set of legal bills cut by almost 18 percent to $1.63 million, the U.S. Trustee said.

Two law firms billed the team $352,742 for work that was unnecessary, attorney Mark Kenney, with the U.S. Trustee, said in a court filing today. The Trustee monitors business bankruptcies on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department.

The two firms, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP and Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor LLP, ran up most of the disputed bills trying to win approval for a loan offered by an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co. after Major League Baseball offered a loan with a better interest rate, Kenney wrote in court papers filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.

After MLB made its loan offer, legal work to support the other loan was “by definition, neither necessary to the administration of the case nor reasonably likely to benefit the debtors’ estates,” Kenney wrote.

“Their fees are completely consistent with appropriate billing practices,” Lyndsey Estin, the team’s spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “They expect that 100 percent of the fees they have requested will be allowed.”

After the Dodgers filed for bankruptcy in June, the team began fighting in court with baseball Commissioner Bud Selig over how to finance operations during bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Gross sided with Selig, and the Dodgers agreed to borrow as much as $150 million from MLB instead of JPMorgan’s Highbridge Capital Management LLC.

The team’s lead bankruptcy attorney, Bruce Bennett of Dewey & LeBoeuf, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment on the Trustee’s filing.

The case is In re Los Angeles Dodgers LLC, 11-12010, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Steven Church in Wilmington, Delaware, at schurch3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Pickering at jpickering@bloomberg.net.

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