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IN THE MATTER OF
10140 AND 10141
ra Martin Benford,
Amesri can 1
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Established in pursuance of the Agreement between
of August 10, 1922
DECISION NO. 78
IN THE MATTER OF
AGENTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY
OF SECTION 9 OF
DOCKET NOS. 10140 AND 10141
Ira Martin Benford, Claimant
Peter Ba mer, Attorney
Commissioner a written request that he fix a reasonable fee to be paid
by him to his attorney, Peter Baumer, of New York City, New York,
as compensation for whatever services have been rendered by him on
behalf of and with the authority of the claimant, such services being
of the character described
9 of the
" Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928 ".
The claimant has objected to the amount of the fee asked by the
n T+n Fn on Q /\r l T n f h fr / a-n ; nec mn n nf t ^n ++ nhunnr 1o n c^ ltnnni
In this case an award was rendered by this Commission on Janu-
on behalf ol
\ rate of five
suffered by the claimant on account of physical injuries received by
him when a German submarine, on July 15,1917, torpedoed the steam-
ship "Campana ", on
which the claimant was a member of the crew
in the capacity of First Assistant Engineer, and for the further sum
of $3,000, with interest thereon at the rate of five per cent per annum
11, 1918, to the date of payment,
which amount rep-
lost at the time of the torpedoing.
This award was based on an agreed statement of facts, signed by
on September 27,
mending an award for the amounts awarded.
claimant in care of the attorney two checks dated February
in the amounts of $6,647.32 and $4,809.03,
of'the two items in the award
, amounting in all to $11,456.35.
checks were not delivered to the claimant by the attorney, and later
now in the possession of that Department.
* the claimar
in this case
it from the
asks reimbursement for one-half
of his expenses, the total of which
amount of $100 which he alleges was loaned by him to the claimant.
The total which he thus claims to be due him is $6,753.17.
It may be noted in passing, although it is immaterial for the rea-
cw^ b nrn n #c4- niT of 4m n 4-b ahn a ++n r4
oIl no +b lJ- a nnrfi-n; fIri.
was considered by the Commission in
bases his request
retainer agreement and
by the claimant
prepared and executed after the American and German Agents had
p r e p a r ed"K/:
the agreed statement above
on which the award
it challenges the
by numerous documents
as to the
with members of Congress and officials of the
of the staff
of this Commission,
exaggerated the value of his services, and thus induced the claimant
to make a fee agreement for a larger fee than his actual legal serv-
alleges are falsely and maliciously made.
An investigation of these charges and
rolve subpoenaing and examining witness
taking of testimony under oath, w
has not authority to do under the
by the provisions of the
" Settlement of
counter charges would in-
es and documents, and the
Le American Commissioner
iction conferred upon hint
War Claims Act of 1928 ".
which does not provide for issuing subpoenas, administering oaths,
and the taking of qral testimony by the American Commissioner.
SMoreover, the part of this fee agreement,
pa y by the
Ai erican Commisioner,
only extends t(
o fixing a
r ? 5 U -1 7U U .i *U
a court would have ample facilities for investigating these disburse-
tioned involve the question of unprofessional conduct on the part of
this attorney, that also
is a question
which cannot be dealt with by
the American Commissioner in this proceeding,
and should be dealt
a court of record in New
is practicing law as a member of the Bar of that State.
is immaterial so far as corn
need not be decided for the
for services is concerned, and
purpose of the
present proceedings be-
Section 9 for the fixing by the American Commissioner of a reason-
this case, for the reasons set out below,
missioner finds that this fee agreement should
leration of the
confine this decision
value of the services
dered by the attorney on behalf of the claimant.
It appears that this claim was first brought to the attention of the
Department of State by
Mr. Bion B.
Libby, an attorney
at law, of
under date of November 5, 1925, that "in taking up the matter with
is no record in
that office of his having filed a claim for loss of personal effects and
injuries sustained." 2
I am in receipt to-day
of a communication from Mr.
states that such claim was forwarded to the State Department on January 10,
letter, it was suggested that the question be submitted to you for your opinion
whether or not such claim
can properly be reinstated
upon proof that it was
filed within the time limit.
a copy of the
adding to tl
to the Mixed Claims Commission asking to be advised whether there
was any record of the claimant's injury and loss of personal effects
0 ~ E
American Agency replied
is the first intimation tha
and that "in
under date of August 2,
t this Agency
icy then informed
of this !
Is had of a possible
n that the time- limi
expired on April 9,
inch as claiins could
from the Denartme:
action as it may
te to th
deem appropriate in the circumstances."
19, 1928, upwards of two years later, th:
is Commission, stating that he had not
department and asking that the Comm
His letter was referred to the Depa
)rmed him on October 5. 1928. that his
with the other papers in the Department's files in
in a position
to the presentation of such claims to the Mixed Claims Commission,
of 1928 '."
provisions of the
On December 31, 1928,
United States and
j.. a., 1 .t A -t a
date of February
these questionnaires the attorney
also forwarded to the Agency the following documents:
Power of attorney executed by the claimant on April 1, 1926, in
favor of this attorney.
Statement of facts sworn
by the claimant on April
Affidavit of the claimant dated January 25,
question No. 19 of Questionnaire Form No. 5
(relating to his
List of personal property lost by the claimant sworn to on April
In reply to the questions in the questionnaires regarding Mlaimant's
Commissioner of Pensions at Washington, D. C.
A statement estab-
Commissioner of Pensions by the American Agency.
On February 21, 1929,
the American Agency requested the attorney
property for which
was made and similar
evidence as to
claimant's earning capacity and
prior to the time
on March 2,
list of losses and two copies of the retainer agreement signed by the
claimant on April 1, 1926.
In acknowledging this letter, on March
7, 1929, the Agency informed the attorney that he would be given an
extension of ten days within which to
furnish the corroborative evi-
dence above mentioned.
The attorney then wrote to the Agency on March 27, 1929, enclosing
We found a sailor but his
testimony would not
because he never was in the chief engineer's room.
We also found a
Master but h
is testimony will
not help because neither one of the men ever saw
they did not even recognize him.
In acknowledging the above letter from
attorney the Agency
stated that this claim had been
presented to the Commission,
further documents were filed bv the attorney
The attorney alleges that he made several
in this case.
trips and long distance
according to the record of the Commission,
the only effective service
of this nature rendered
by him was to attend a conference in
*ington in September
Agent agreed not
This offer was accepted by the attorney
an award for
the amounts awarded.
No brief on any question of law or fact involved in this claim was
filed by this attorney.
In the American Commissioner'
dated August 30, 1930, he stated
Administrative Decision No.
that the Agent of the Government
claims and supporting evidence,
to send t
o each claimant
for the an
The Administrative Decision of the American Commissioner aboa
mentioned further states:
The information asked for in these questionnaires was designed to establish,
inter alos, the American nationality status of the claim and the claimant with
reference to the periods of German liability, also the amount of the claim, and
whether it came within the jurisdictions of the Commission and presented facts
establishing liability of the German Government under the Treaty of B
information asked for
in simple and ordinary;
in dealing with them
n and sworn to by th
>f the claim presented.
f memorial asking for
in these questionnaires was designed to
y terms so as not to require the assist
. These questionnaires, when the answ
e claimant, constituted in most cases ti
This statement, accompanied by a shori
the damages claimed, together with the
rting evidence, was then filed by the American
fixed by the new Agreement between the two
the American Agent considered that the facts
nce of a
presented justified the
prosecution of the claim.
Otherwise the claim was abandoned.
In none of the proceedings taken, either by the Agents or by the Commission
itself, which resulted in an award, was there any opportunity or occasion for
the participation of private attor
:ed exceptional difficulties.
nce of the American Age
however, valuable services
in assisting the claimants
short and summary form
to these "late claims," d
in the prosecution of the
neys in the presentation of the claim unless it
In any case claimants were entitled to the
rncy, which was always available. In many
were rendered by private attorneys in procur-
in procuring, supporting or rebuttal evidence.
of procedure outlined above, which has been
offered in many respects from that which was
original claims, and particularly with respect
and the character of legal services rendered
by private attorneys in many of the earlier claims.
Inasmuch as, for the reasons above indicated, the character and value of legal
services rendered by private attorneys in the late claims," with but few excep-
tions, have been standardized and reduced to a common and minimum basis, the
American Commissioner considers that unlike the earlier cases a common and
standard rate of compensation can now be adopted for these late claims," ex-
cept in cases in which the services rendered are shown to have been of more or
less value than the common standard.
comparatively minor part in
to do in
are admittedly within
All that they
of the Commission, as was the situation with these claims,
evidence called for by the American Agent,
was to produce the
who took the entire responsibility
for the presentation of the claims and of the negotiations for the compromise
settlement which was agreed upon in these cases.
"Another important distinction is that in these cases the private attorneys
have nothing to do with the collection of the awards of this Commission, the
payment of which has been arranged by the
United States Government.
every case before this Commission and prosecuted the claims through its own
Agent and at its own expense.
In every case the awards of this Commission
were made- to the
behalf of the private
United States Government as the primary
as the subordinate
claim the United States has espoused and made its own before it could be pre-
sented as an international claim.
* Taking into con
sideration the important services rendered without
charge by the United States Government for the benefit of the claimants,
been called upon to perform for their clients,
the American Commissioner feels
justified in fixing a lower rate of compensation for the private attorneys in these
on a contingent
' late claims.
The American Commissioner has fixed fees in three other fee-fixing
. proceedings in which this attorney was a party (Decisions Nos.
and 58), but they were not late claims cases.
This attorney also
in which Dec
"late claims case, but in that decision the American Commis-
*. I W f Rl'W an-i cn d 4a w A W n 4 a 4- 1* a ., aw n n Wa w
ul nnnnn I
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UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
iMi3i 1262 084I 4 I I II
3 1262 08484 1724
character to justify exceptional treatment, but come within the class
"standardized and reduced
to a common and minimum basis"
American Commissioner holds that the general standard
adopted in his Administrative
should be applied in this case.
The application of this standard rate
would result in a fee for this attorney of $S3.
, in view of the considerations above set forth, a
of the contingent character of the fee arrangement under which the
claim was prosecuted, making the attorney'1
stated in the American Commissioner's Administrative Decision No.
examination and full consideration
formation furnished in this proceeding
by the attorney, and
questions involved, and after due deliberation thereon,
'M': /'* *, **13", *I <: '
fee to be paid by the claimant,
Ira Martin Benford, to his said attor-
, in this case, the sum of eight hundred and forty-
three dollars and sixty-nine cents
($843.69), the said fee to be pai
d. Th c
by the claimant
by the attorney
as full :compensation
for all services rendered by him in the prosecution and collection of
this claim, as defined in Section 9 of the Settlement of War Clams
Act of 1928"
C., this 19th day of February, 1932.
CHANDLER P. ANDsoNw,
Mied Claims Gon weia
Ujnted Sties and Germawy.
*< .' '..^ ^ '^a^s s
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