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Google Ordered to Pick Up Boies Legal Fees at $2,000 an Hour (4)

July 15, 2022, 6:23 PMUpdated: July 15, 2022, 8:44 PM

A California federal judge has ordered Alphabet Inc.‘s Google to pay nearly $1 million for discovery misconduct after the company concealed employees and other relevant data in a lawsuit alleging web browser privacy violations.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan represents Google in the case, while Boies Schiller Flexner represents the class-action plaintiffs.

Quinn Emanuel lawyers had urged Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen not to levy sanctions against Google, saying the company had “concealed nothing.” She ruled against them in May.

Boies Schiller’s lawyers had requested more than $1 million, but van Keulen ordered Google to pay just over $970,000 after deducting fees incurred by timekeepers billing less than 10 hours, time spent producing documents and computer research.

Though much of the original sanctions motion is redacted, Boies Schiller said Google failed to produce data that included “identifiers” associated with the named plaintiffs and their devices. The judge’s order granting the monetary sanctions is sealed.

The sanctions request from Boies Schiller earlier revealed David Boies, the famous lawyer, billed $1,950 an hour in the case.

“Google failed to comply with its discovery obligations, misled the plaintiffs and the Court, concealed the identities of key personnel, and concealed, and then destroyed, key documents,” Boies said in a statement to Bloomberg Law. “The sanctions are serious, as they should be, given Google’s serious misconduct.”

Quinn Emanuel partner Andrew Schapiro said the plaintiffs had been seeking “extreme sanctions,” which would preclude Google from making some arguments in court.

“At the end of the day, they are getting a partial payment of their inflated bill for the time they devoted to bringing the motion,” Schapiro said in a statement.

The case filed in 2020 alleges Google tracked users browsing history and other web activity even when they used “private browsing mode.”

“The surreptitious and unauthorized tracking of the internet communications of millions of Americans, particularly where, as here, they have taken active (and recommended) measures to ensure their privacy, constitutes an egregious breach of social norms that is highly offensive,” the complaint says.

(Adds comment from Schapiro in paragraphs eight and nine.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com