High-powered uptown law firms can charge some high-powered fees, as real estate agent Vicki Bagley presumably knew when she hired Sachs, Greenebaum & Tayler in 1979 to bring a $9 million libel suit against The Washington Star.
Last week, the firm sued Bagley, estranged wife of Reynolds tobacco heir Smith Bagley, in D.C. Superior Court last week, for $18,792.20 in legal fees.
The original libel suit was settled out of court. The Star paid nothing to Bagley and did not retract its story, which accused her of improper business practices. Even so, Bagley told a reporter after the mid-1980 settlement that she was satisfied with the outcome, since she had become convinced that a lot of people didn't believe the story.
Her lawyers, meanwhile, claim they are still waiting for her to pay up. According to their suit, nearly half the money is owed to Sachs, Greenebaum partner David Dorsen, who billed Bagley for 115 hours of work at $80 an hour for a total of $9,200. Then-associate, now-partner Thomas Hylden spent 56.5 hours working on the case at $45 an hour, for a total of $2,542.50. Another partner, Ron Liebman, who has since left the firm, spent 105 minutes on the case, at $1.17 a minute.
According to the time records filed with the suit, partner Fred Abramson, chairman of the D.C. judicial nominating commission, logged 15 minutes on the case, billing Bagley for $17.50.
Bagley was traveling outside the country last week, according to an associate at her company, and could not be reached for comment.
Sachs, Greenebaum, perhaps believing the adage that a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, has hired Kivitz and Liptz to go after the money.