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September 14, 2009 4:20 PM

Zuckerman Denies Charges in Hulk Hogan Case

Posted by Zach Lowe

When we were six years old or so, there might not have been an athlete we revered as much as Hulk Hogan. So we took notice today when we read that Hogan, who apparently is struggling a bit financially, sued Zuckerman Spaeder for allegedly charging over $1 million in unnecessary legal fees.

Partner Morris "Sandy" Weinberg, current cochair of the American Bar Association's white-collar crime committee, defended the Hulkster's son, Nick Bollea, in a civil matter linked to an August 2007 car crash Bollea caused that left a passenger in his car seriously injured, according to the Tampa Tribune. (Hat tip: The ABA Journal.) Hogan now says he shouldn't have had to pay those legal bills, because his insurance company, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, would have supplied counsel for free.

The policy on Bollea's car included bodily injury liability limits of $250,000 per person and total limits of $500,000 for a particular incident. The policy called for Progressive to defend Bollea against any civil claim, the Tribune says. But Hogan's lawsuit says Weinberg and Lee Fugate, counsel at Zuckerman, hid that fact from Hogan and billed him anyway, despite getting letters from a Progressive lawyer who said he would defend Hogan and Bollea. Weinberg billed Hogan $550 per hour, and the firm billed Hogan a total of nearly $1.6 million. 

Weinberg and Zuckerman denied the charges in a statement released to The Am Law Daily through their attorney, L. Joseph Shaheen of Akerman Senterfitt. (Zuckerman referred all inquiries to Shaheen.) The firm claims the charges are "baseless," and that its attorneys were part of a team that "achieved a very favorable result" for Hogan and Bollea. Hogan was never charged, and his son pleaded no contest to reckless driving in a deal that could leave him without a conviction on his record. (The court withheld adjudication, though Bollea was sentenced to eight months in jail as part of the plea deal, according to the AP.)

In the statement, Zuckerman also claims Hogan signed a document outlining the firm's billing rates.

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