The Philadelphia Orchestra Association (POA) says in court documents that it inadvertently exceeded the U.S. Bankruptcy Court-mandated ceiling on payments to two of its contractors.
The orchestra paid Brian Communications $469,000 in fees and expenses for public relations during the past 15 months as it worked its way through the Chapter 11 process. Mercer, the pension and actuarial consultant, was paid $458,427 in fees and expenses.
Both exceeded the limit on such fees, and the orchestra asked the judge to increase the cap to $650,000 from $420,000.
The limit was exceeded "due to a miscommunication in the tracking of … payment amounts," court documents state.
The fee increases were approved by Judge Eric L. Frank, who had scheduled a Wednesday hearing in the matter that was canceled after no objections were filed. The fee ceiling for "ordinary course professionals" does not apply to other consultants, such as the several law firms working on the bankruptcy. The orchestra has estimated total professional fees and expenses in the case at close to $10 million.
Brian P. Tierney's company is expected to be paid $780,000 through the end of the bankruptcy process, according to a forecast provided to The Inquirer by Brian Communications.
"Brian Communications provides strategic counsel for internal and external communications regarding the orchestra's bankruptcy process, which included settlements, labor negotiations and important benchmarks in the reorganization," said a spokeswoman for the firm. "We have also supported the Communications Department with artistic public relations, specifically focusing on concert and subscription promotion."
According to the spokeswoman, the fees represent a 30 percent discount for work in March and April 2011, and 20 percent since then, for a total discount of $169,139 through April 30, 2012. "Brian Communications also served as a sponsor for opening night 2011 and was a benefactor for the Academy Ball 2011," she said.
Mercer has advised the orchestra on matters relating to pensions, whose restructuring was a central reason for the orchestra's decision to file for Chapter 11 in April 2011.
In addition, the judge gave his approval to payments to another law firm, this one not connected to bankruptcy case but to separate litigation.
"The retention of Mannion Prior is necessary and appropriate under the circumstances because Mannion Prior has and continues to represent the debtors' interests in litigation surrounding the proceeds of a charitable trust of which POA may be a beneficiary, along with several other local organizations."
No other information about that case was immediately available.