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Geoff Dolan argues city inflated legal fees

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Geoff Dolan

Former Manhattan Beach city manager Geoff Dolan.

Former Manhattan Beach City Manager Geoff Dolan’s attorney, Patricio Barrera, filed a motion on Friday opposing the city’s request for attorney fees, according to court documents.

In a memorandum, Barrera argues that the $88,760 fee request “is unreasonably inflated and includes a request for fees stemming from work not yet performed, as well as improper, duplicative and unnecessary services.”

Barrera claims that it was unnecessary for the city to employ four senior attorneys with a combined 65 years of professional experience to spend 127 hours “drafting one 15-page motion.” Barrera argues the motion should’ve been completed in less than 30 hours and cost around $20,000. Barrera notes the city’s requested fees exceed the fees Dolan incurred for the same motion by $60,000, using a $350 per hour billing rate.

“We believe that the City’s fees are very reasonable for this type of complex case,” said Manhattan Beach City Attorney Quinn Barrow, in a statement.

Dolan sued the city last October for breach of contract and invasion of privacy rights based on the city’s disclosure of an anonymous letter that accused Dolan of sexual harassment. Dolan argued the letter was confidential under his resignation agreement. Dolan contends that the public release of the letter caused him humiliation and has prevented him from obtaining employment. The city was compelled to release the letter as part of a settlement with open government activist Richard McKee, and its position was that the public’s interest in the terms of Dolan’s resignation trumped his privacy interests.

The city’s reimbursement request followed a judge’s March 6 dismissal of Dolan’s lawsuit against the city and former City Attorney Robert Wadden.

Judge Susan Bryant-Deason granted the city’s request to dismiss the complaint. The city had argued that its disclosures were protected under California’s Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) Law, which allows for an expedited dismissal of a complaint if it arises from an organization or individual exercising free speech about an issue of public interest.

The anti-SLAPP statute states that the winning party is entitled to recoup attorney fees, Barrow said.

The case will be heard on Thursday, August 2 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 52 of Los Angeles Superior Court.

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