Back when Jason Zink settled the tip pool lawsuit against Don't Know Tavern, some readers questioned why it was the plaintiffs' lawyer who was getting the bulk of the money.
Well, on Friday, the federal judge on the case raised some of the same questions.
Richard D. Bennett denied the settlement agreement both sides had submitted for approval in early July and asked attorneys to submit a new agreement with complete documentation of the attorneys fees. The Daily Record first reported the news.
In his ruling, Bennett said he did not have evidence to conclude the plaintiffs' attorney, Phillip Zipin, overcharged his clients, but "there is evidence that at least suggests that the attorney’s fees are unreasonable."
Under the settlement, Zink agreed to pay his former employees and their attorney $115,000.18. The employees had sued two years ago over Zink's participation in an employee-only tip pool.
But the bulk of the settlement money - about $98,000 - was to go to Zipin, a Silver Spring-based attorney. The employees themselves would net just $15,000.18.
Zipin told the Daily Record the ruling is "perfunctory" and the judge will be satisfied with the fees once he submits his billing statements.
Howard P. Hoffman, who represented Zink on the case, told the paper he hopes the agreement stays the same after the attorneys submit their paperwork, but that there's a chance the judge might ask to hear testimony on the damages again.