An old lawsuit against former Sprint Corp. executives and directors is making headlines again thanks to new information about a lawyer in the 2005 case – which was related to the Sprint/Nextel merger. The case has now undergone an appeals process thanks to what can only be described as exorbitant attorneys fees charged by Sprint's employees. Those awarded fees have already been cut from $4.2 million down to just $450,000 but what's grabbing headlines is the fact that more than a quarter of those requested fees had been set aside for a single lawyer. Alexander J. Silow, the fee records show, had racked up more than 13 hours per day, reviewing 48,443 documents. For Silow's work alone, more than $1.5 million had originally been asked for. A co-founder of the Weiser Law firm – just one of the firms representing Sprint – called Silow's work indispensable in helping to "make well-informed decisions." However, new evidence has also been presented showing that Silow was not even authorized to practice law and that is what all of the fuss is about.
The initial fee reduction was awarded against Sprint in November of last year after Kansas Judge James Vano called the amount requested, "unbelievable." Vano also expressed concerns that the number of hours billed had been inflated deliberately. Silow's deception was first caught by his own employer, which promptly sent a letter to the Judge. While the firm did not outline exactly how it happened or how it was discovered, Weiser was able to figure out first that Silow had not provided his real name when no "Alexander J. Silow" showed up in the state's repository of licensed lawyers. His real name, as it turns out, is Jeffrey M. Silow. Providing a false name is bad enough, but it was also discovered that Silow had been disbarred in 1987 – a fact confirmed by Pennsylvania's attorney discipline office. As a result, one Sprint Shareholder requested as recently as last month that the case be reviewed again by Judge Vano in light of the new allegations.
What started out as a pretty typical case seems to have turned out to be anything but. After all, the original suit was only set to reclaim damages caused by alleged incompetence and self-dealing by former executives. The rather anti-climactic conclusion was that Sprint agreed to make changes to its corporate policy and its board of directors. Sprint seems to be in and out of court a lot over the last several years. Unfortunately, while this particular case could have ended with November's ruling, it looks like there will be far more happening thanks to the latest turn of events.