Decision no. ... in the matter of fixing reasonable fees for attorneys or agents under the authority of Section 9 of the...

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Material Information

Title:
Decision no. ... in the matter of fixing reasonable fees for attorneys or agents under the authority of Section 9 of the "Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928."
At head of title:
American Commissioner
Physical Description:
v. : ; 23 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
Mixed Claims Commission, United States and Germany
Publisher:
U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:
Frequency:
completely irregular

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
World War, 1914-1918 -- Claims -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Claims vs. Germany -- Periodicals -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genre:
serial   ( sobekcm )

Notes

Dates or Sequential Designation:
No. 1 -
General Note:
Title from cover.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004822591
oclc - 50038280
System ID:
AA00008543:00056

Full Text



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THE AMERICAN COMMISSIONER

.i MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION

UNITED STATES AND GERMANY



DECISION NO. 7

IN THE MATTER OF

FIXING REASONABLE FEES FOR ATTORNEYS OR
AGENTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 9 OF
THE "SETTLEMENT OF WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1928"


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DOCKET NO. 5050



Else Meyer, Claimant
George W. Offutt, Attorney



CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
American, Commissioner


-.i PRINTING OFFICE : 1928


































MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION, UNITED STATES AND GERMANY

Established in pursuance of the Agreement between the
United States and Germany of August 10, 1922


CHANDLER P. ANDERSON
American Commissioner

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THE AMERICAN COMMISSIONER

MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION
UNITED STATES AND GERMANY


DECISION NO. 7

IN THE MATTER OF
FIXING REASONABLE FEES FOR ATTORNEYS OR
AGENTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 9 OF
THE "SETTLEMENT OF WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1928"


DOCKET NO. 5050


Else Meyer, Claimant
George IW. Offutt, Attorney


The above-named claimant has duly filed with the American Com-
missioner a written request that he fix a reasonable fee to be paid
by her to her attorney, George W. Offutt, of Washington, D. C.
(hereinafter referred .to as the attorney), as compensation for what-
ever services have been rendered by the said attorney on behalf of
and with the authority of the said claimant, such services being of
the character described in the provisions of Section 9 of the Settle-
ment of War Claims Act of 1928."
The claimant has not objected to the amount of the fee asked by
the attorney on the ground that it is excessive, but because, being in-
experienced in such matters, she does not know whether the fee
charged is reasonable. She expresses her willingness to pay the
reasonable fee fixed in this proceeding. The attorney has been no-
tified of the filing by the claimant of this request that a reasonable
fee be fixed, and the attorney, in response .to a request by the Amer-
RA2085-28 (3)






ican Commissioner, has filed with him affidavits and correspondence.
giving the information which the attorney desires to have considered
by the Commisssioner as showing the reasonableness of the fee asked, |
which information has been brought to the attention of the claimant,
who has filed a letter in reply, a copy of which has been transmitted :
to the attorney.
The amount of the fee asked by the attorney as compensation for
his services is twenty per cent of the amount received by the claimant .I,
from the Treasury Department in payment of the award in this case, .
and the fee on this twenty per cent basis, as computed by the attorney, i..
amounts to $3,787.78.
The award in this case was made on March 11, 1925, on behalf of
the claimant for $12,693.00, with interest thereon at the rate of
five per cent per annum from September 1, 1918, to the date of pay-
ment, and represents damages sustained by the claimant due to the
sale, during the War, of certain securities belonging to the claimant,
which were taken under supervision by the German Treuhander,
and the subsequent depreciation of the mark value.
The attorney, George W. Offutt, was retained by the claimant
through her local attorney in California, Mr. Alfred L. Black, Jr.,
and he agreed to act for her in the presentation and prosecution of
this claim for a contingent fee of twenty per cent of the amount
recovered, which fee was to be paid only in case an award was made
and paid. It appears that in making this fee agreement Mr. Offutt,
the Washington attorney, understood that Mr. Black, the California
attorney, should receive from him what he describes as a forward-
ing fee," amounting to one-third of his twenty per cent fee.
The services rendered by the attorney in this case commenced with
some correspondence between him and the California attorney with
reference to procuring information as to the facts upon which this
claim arose. Through unavoidable delay in obtaining this informa-
tion, it became necessary for the attorney to prepare and, as attorney,
swear to a preliminary petition on behalf of the claimant. This
was done in order that it should be filed with this Commission before
the expiration of the period fixed By the Agreement between the
United States and Germany establishing the Commission, within
which period claims were required to be filed to bring them within
the jurisdiction of this Commission. The rules of the Commission '
permitted the later amendment of this petition, and subsequently,





65
after obtaining additional data for the more complete presentation
of the claim, this attorney prepared an amended petition, which was
sworn to by the claimant and duly filed. The data required for this
amended petition consisted of evidence proving the American
nationality of the claimant and of written records showing the
securities and bank balances of the claimant in Germany, which
were procured through the attorney in California. These records
were in German and were translated into English at the expense of
the attorney in Washington.
It appears from the files of this Commission that this claim was
the subject of conferences in Berlin between representatives of the
German and American Agents. As a result of these conferences,
and of subsequent negotiations between the American Agent and
the German Agent, based in part on the evidence filed by the
attorney, but chiefly on the information obtained through their
representatives in Germany, the German Agent proposed to the
American Agent, as a compromise, that he would not oppose an
award for the amount finally awarded. This offer was submitted
by the American Agent on January 12, 1925, to the claimant's
attorney, with the request for a prompt decision as to whether or
not it would be accepted. The attorney thereupon wrote to the
claimant, who was then in Germany, informing her of this offer, and
advising its acceptance for reasons fully set out in that letter. The
claimant wrote in reply on February 9, 1925, authorizing the accept-
ance of the offer above mentioned, which decision was communicated
by the attorney to the American Agent. Promptly thereafter the
claim was submitted to this Commission, and, as above stated, an
award for the amount proposed in this offer was rendered by this
Commission on March 11, 1925.
The services rendered by the attorney also comprised a number
I,of conferences with the members of the legal staff of the American
.Agency, and considerable correspondence with the claimant and
her California attorney, and also called for a special and concen-
trated effort on the part of the attorney in preparing the preliminary
petition under pressure, in time to file it within the limited period
* required to avoid default, as well as the additional attention
involved in the examination and classification of the financial
reports from Germany in preparing the amended petition.


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66 ,

On the other hand, as noted above, evidence of some of the essenti*a91||
facts sustaining the award was procured in Germany by the reproe :
sentatives of the American and German Agents, and in the presenta;- 7
tion of this claim the attorney was not called upon to deal with any .'"|
complicated facts, and was not required to pass upon any important i
question of law, except in so far as certain legal questions had to be ':
considered by him in advising the claimant to accept a compromise 411
settlement for less than one-half of the amount of her claim. There
is nothing in the record, however, to show that if the Commission:: ,i
had been called upon to deal with these legal questions in this case
the amount of the award would have been increased, and the attor- -
ney undoubtedly adopted the views of the American Agency in '
writing to the claimant advising her to settle on the basis proposed.
It is evident from the information submitted that the fee agree-
ment in this case was made in the expectation that the presentation "
and prosecution of the claim would require much more extensive
and difficult services on the part of the attorney than subsequently
proved to be required. Moreover, the California attorney has stated ^
in his letter of July 16, 1928, to the claimant, that he would not
accept any compensation for the services rendered by him as the *,
forwarding attorney. In this connection it must be noted that
the California attorney rendered certain important services in con- ^
ferring with the. claimant and procuring information from her, and >
that he carried on substantially the same amount of correspondence |
with the Washington attorney as the latter carried on with him. %A
The reasons for the refusal of the California attorney to make any
charge for his services are not pertinent to the present question, and
need not be considered here. Nevertheless, in the opinion of the .
American Commissioner, an attorney's fee which is in excess of the -
amount which the attorney considers should be paid to him is an, 5
excessive fee within the meaning of the provisions of the Act under :
which this proceeding is taken. For that reason the refusal of :,
the California attorney to receive his one-third share of the fee
charged in this case makes necessary the reduction of this fee to that :
extent. It may be noted incidentally in passing that the claimant .,:
ignored an attempt made on the part of these attorneys to discuss,
with her the question of an adjustment of this fee, and it seems .
probable from the information submitted that if opportunity had :.
been offered they would have proposed to her an adjustment on







j the basis of waiving the so-called forwarding fee." It is to be
regretted that she was unwilling to discuss this question with them.
They have observed throughout a correct standard of professional
ethics, and demonstrated their ability and desire to care for her
interests, and she could have relied upon them to deal fairly with
f' her in this matter.
The amount paid to this claimant, in settlement of this award, was
$18,938.91. The twenty per cent fee, accordingly, amounts, as above
stated, to $3,787.78, and the one-third thereof representing the for-
warding fee amounts to $1,262.59, which, subtracted from the twenty
per cent fee, leaves $2,525.19. Taking into consideration the services
actually rendered and the contingent basis upon which the compen-
sation was to be paid, and that no charge is made for incidental dis-
bursements incurred by the attorney, the American Commissioner
is of the opinion that a fee of $2,525.00 is a reasonable fee for the
legal services rendered in this case.
Now, therefore, in the circumstances above set forth, and in view
of the considerations above stated, and also those stated in the gen-
eral Jurisdictional and Administrative Decision rendered by the
American Commissioner under date of September 28, 1928, and after
careful examination and full consideration of the information fur-
nished in this proceeding by the attorney and the claimant, and by
the records of this Commission pertinent to the questions involved in
this case, and after due deliberation thereon,
The American Commissioner decides and fixes as the reasonable
fee to be paid by the claimant, Else Meyer, to her said attorney,
George W. Offutt, in this case, the sum of two thousand five hundred
twenty-five dollars ($2,525.00), said fee to be paid by the claimant,
and received by the attorney as full compensation for all services
rendered in the prosecution and collection of this claim, as defined in
Section 9 of the Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928."
Done at Washington, D. C., this 5th day of November, 1928.
CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
American Commissioner,
Mixed Claims Comnvission,
United States and Germany.




UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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