HNRK Awarded $4.6 Million in Attorney’s Fees in Palm Restaurant Licensing Suit
New York, NY—December 17, 2019—New York Supreme Court Justice Andrea Masley has ordered defendants in the long-running Palm restaurant trademark battle to pay $4.6 million in attorney’s fees and expenses to HNRK for its successful prosecution of the case. The award follows the court’s judgment in February 2019, which ordered more than $120 million be paid to minority shareholder plaintiffs Claire Breen, Charles Cook and Gary Ganzi, represented by HNRK, in underpaid royalties related to the restaurants.
In her ruling on attorney’s fees, Justice Masley praised HNRK’s trial team, led by founding partner Fred Newman. In awarding the full amount of the fees sought, Justice Masley noted that Newman’s trial skills were “extraordinary.” She added that the firm’s requested fee was “reasonable.”
The origins of the dispute go back decades in the colorful history of the Palm restaurant. The original location was founded in 1926 by Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi; the plaintiffs and defendants are grandchildren of the original owners. Plaintiffs challenged the royalty rate (set over 40 years ago) for the Palm restaurant intellectual property — including its trademarks, world famous name, look and feel and related attributes — as substantially below market and as calculated in an unusual and inappropriate manner for famous trademarks. The trial court agreed, and required a royalty using the percentage of sales methodology.