Burt Neuborne, who has spent eight years as the lead settlement counsel for Holocaust survivors around the world, should receive $3 million in fees for his work, a federal magistrate judge recommended late Thursday.
The recommendation from Eastern District of New York Magistrate Judge James Orenstein, in a 104-page report, attempted to reach a middle ground in an at times unseemly dispute that has made Neuborne, a renowned advocate for Holocaust survivors who has helped to amass more than $1 billion in reparations, into a figure worthy of contempt in the eyes of many of the survivors entitled to those funds.
The magistrate judge said the parties had “lost sight” of the “admirable example” they set when they settled — eight years ago, and with Neuborne as lead pro bono counsel — a $1.25 billion suit against the Swiss banks that assisted the Nazis in stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Jews.
The magistrate judge strenuously called upon Neuborne and the group of U.S. survivors who opposed the fees to settle their differences and reach an amicable resolution to the dispute.
He implored Neuborne to accept less than his requested amount, and for the objecting survivors to accept that Neuborne deserves a fee, and that the fee would be paid, for the most part, by other survivors who vastly outnumber the objectors.
“I make these observations not to suggest any specific bargain, nor to coerce a settlement in any way,” Magistrate Judge Orenstein wrote in In Re Holocaust Victims Assets Litigation, 06-CV-0983. “I instead appeal to each individual participant in this litigation to find a way to continue to help redress the evil the Nazis began so long ago rather than let it continue to spread rancor among its victims. In doing so, I of course recognize that what I propose is something no court can or should command; it is, instead, a voluntary decision by each party to engage in a private act of grace.”
Orenstein’s recommendation — $3,095,325 — is $1 million less than what Neuborne originally asked for in December 2005.