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District Court Scores Another Win For City Over Mountain Water – Millions In Legal Fees Reduced

photo by Peter Christian
John Engen

On Monday, Missoula District Judge Karen Townsend ruled that attorneys for Mountain Water and the Carlyle Group overcharged the city millions of dollars in legal fees, and ordered them reduced.

Representing the city, Natasha Prinzing Jones, said Judge Townsend issued a 45 page order that significantly reduced the amount of fees and costs claimed by the defendants in the case.

“Between Mountain Water and the Carlyle Group, they wanted about $7.9 million, and Judge Townsend reduced their claim first by reducing their hourly rates to local rates,” Jones said. “The lawyers that were hired by the defendants were charging rates from $400 to $500 per hour, and she reduced those hourly rates to $235 per hour.for attorneys, $195 for associates and  $95 for paralegals. From there, she also reduced Mountain Water’s attorney’s fees by 25 percent and Carlyle’s attorney’s fees by 35 percent due to insufficient documentation and over billing. She also reduced the costs claimed by Mountain Water Company and Carlyle Group by 40 percent, saying they were excessive and lacked documentation.”

Jones estimates the legal fees owed by the city will be reduced from over $7 million to just over $4 million.

“The less the City of Missoula pays overall for the condemnation case, the better for our ratepayers and citizens,” she said. “So, it’s a good day for us.”

KGVO News reached out to Mountain Water for a comment, but the call has not yet been returned.


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