Fifteen days after the Brian Berger v. New Hanover County Board of Commissioners case was declared closed, the outside attorney representing the county filed an invoice totaling nearly $68,000.
The amotion process was used to remove Berger from his seat in May 2013. Since the judge’s ruling reinstating Berger to his seat on Sept. 5, Berger has remained on the board.
The two invoices from attorney John Martin of Ward and Smith P.A. in Greensville dated Oct. 15 total $67,794.
Martin charged the county $295 per hour. His standard hourly rate is $400.
An email from Martin to New Hanover County Attorney Wanda Copley states, “In anticipation that the commissioners may have questions because of the amount of legal fees which were incurred, I have set forth below an overview of this litigation and an explanation as to why the legal fees were significantly more than our initial estimate.”
Martin’s reasoning behind the increase in fees is that “Berger raised a number of additional issues and positions … and engaged in other procedural tactics.”
The invoices are divided into legal services and fees “related to relevant and limited issues,” totaling about $25,600, and other legal services and fees “incurred as a result of the injection of irrelevant and/or spurious issues and other actions,” totaling about $42,000.