Insurer Claims that Firm Overbilled by $3M in Asbestos Lawsuits
On Monday, October 5, 2015 a Swiss Re insurer filed suit in a California federal court claiming that a law firm billed $3 million extra in several asbestos lawsuits. Initially, Westport Insurance Corp. launched an investigation into Vasquez Estrada & Conway LLP’s billing practices after it became suspicious of a firm partner’s estimates for defending Hill Brothers Chemical Co.
In the complaint, the insurer alleges that Vasquez Estrada attorneys billed insurers more than $9 million for two years of work defending Hill Brothers, $6 million of which was charged to Westport. As a result of its own investigation, Westport reported that the law firm had overstaffed the asbestos cases and billed for redundant work.
Ultimately, even though the contract terms permitted only three staff on any given case, Westport claims that the law firm staffed more than a dozen employees on cases. Westport further alleges that the firm billed for more than 170 hours to prepare 29 motions that were all identical to motions filed in previous cases.