E AMERICAN COMMISSIONER
MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION
UNITED STATES AND GERMANY
DECISION NO. 8
IN THE MATTER OF
REASONABLE FEES FOR ATTORNEYS OR
.TS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 9 OF
I'; SETTLEMENT OF WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1928"
DOCKET NO. 54
S Melanie Victorine Angell, Claimant
Bynum E. Hinton, Attorney
CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
ST M T OF R u. C A WMSN PRINTING OrIC: i1928
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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
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T AMERICAN COMMISSIONER
MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION
UNITED STATES AND GERMANY
DECISION NO. 8
IN THE MATTER OF
G REASONABLE FEES FOR ATTORNEYS OR
CENTS UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF SECTION 9 OF
SETTLEMENT OF WAR CLAIMS ACT OF 1928"
DOCKET NO. 54
fi ::.: Melanie Victorine Angell, Claimant
Bynun, E. Hinton, Attorney
:The above-named claimant has duly filed with the American Com-
4'sionuer a written request that he fix a reasonable fee to be paid by
to her attorney, Bynum E. Hinton, of Washington, D. C. (here-
.te.r referred to as the attorney), as compensation for whatever
Belies have been rendered by him on behalf of and with the
Al hority of the said claimant, such services being of the character
lt$sribed in the provisions of Section 9 of the "Settlement of War
.:.lims Act of 1928."
ii ;i:The claimant has not objected to the amount of the fee asked by
,he attorney on the ground that it is excessive, but because she desires
,f to.tae advantage of the opportunity afforded by the provisions of
action 9 of the Act above mentioned to have a reasonable fee for
I attorney fixed by the American Commissioner pursuant to the
oxvisions of that Act. She expresses her willingness to pay the
asonable fee fixed in this proceeding. The attorney has been noti-
ei.of the filing by the claimant of this request that a reasonable
be fixed, and the attorney, in response to a request by the Ameri-
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can Commissioner, has filed with him an affidavit. and correspondence i
giving the information which the attorney desires to have considered::::..:
by the Commissioner as showing the reasonableness of the fee asked, .'
which information has been brought to the attention of the claim-
ant, whose husband, on her behalf, has filed a letter in reply, stating :
her position, a copy of which letter has been transmitted to the.
The amount of the fee asked by the attorney as compensation for :
his services is twenty per cent of the amount received by the claim- ,..
ant 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, amounts to $2,364.20.
The award in this case was made on January 30, 1925, on behalf of
the claimant for $8,000 with interest thereon at the rate of five per
cent per annum from November 11, 1918, to the date of payment, and
represents damages to furniture and other property of the claimant
m a house belonging to her, in Brussels, which was occupied by the
German military authorities during the war.
On or about May 22, 1928, the claimant received a check for $11,-
821.01 from the Treasurer of the United States in payment of this
award, and on June 18, 1928, paid to the attorney $600 on account
of his fee for professional services in this case, which was accepted by .
him without prejudice to his claim for the additional amount charged.
There were two fee agreements made in this case. The first agree-
ment was made through the claimant's husband with Mr. Arthur J
Stobbart, a New York attorney, who on the advice of Mr. Hinton, '
the Washington attorney subsequently retained by him as associate
attorney, fixed the fee on a contingent, basis of twenty per cent of.:,:
the amount recovered, to be divided equally between the two at-
torneys. It. was also provided that the claimant should pay -the
necessary expenses incurred. Mr. Stobbart was at that time an at-:
tornev in the Home Office of the National Security Company of New l
York; Mr. Angell was. and is, a Special Agent for the National:.,'
Surety Company, and Mr. Hinton has been an attorney for that Com-rn ,iil` l
pany in Washington for many years. 4'tl
Mr. Stobbart died on March 30, 1925, and after considerable cor;'j:!%|
respondence. between Mr. Angell, the husband of the claimant, a8B0 :5i
Mr. Hinton, the Washington attorney, it was agreed between. theid
mr..H-intoih shouid. "continue tie prosecution ot saia claim to
settlement in consideration of twenty (20) per cent of what-
ay be allowed and paid thereon, the same to be in full compen-
Sor services heretofore and hereafter rendered in the prosecu-
said claim." A written agreement to that effect, and provid-
for the payment of this fee by the claimant to this attorney,
$Xecuted by the claimant and Mr. Hinton in June, 1925. This
ent further provided that Mr. Stobbart's share of this fee
be paid out of it by the attorney Hinton to Mr. Stobbart's
.who also signed this agreement.
N.affidavit filed by this attorney shows that the case was taken
.:him and his New York associate promptly after they were
ltned, and was thereafter diligently prosecuted by them. The
e~fseendered included the preparation of the petition originally
Ihf the Department of State in December, 1919, followed by
E40ous conferences with the officials of the Department, in conse-
". of which a number of affidavits were prepared, and additional
a; collected by the attorneys, and the petition revised and re-
fled to meet the suggestions and requirements of the. Department
9itae, which finally pronounced the claim to be in satisfactory
1iihl the early part of 1921. Subsequently, when this Commission
asfablished, the claim was filed with the American Agent for
Citation to the Commission, and numerous conferences were held
fiiJhim and with members of the. Agency's staff, extending over a
od. of about one year, until October, 1923, when this attorney was
"dt by the American Agency that the German Agent was pre-
.to agree not to oppose an award of $4,500 with interest from
0iber 11, 1918. This offer was the subject of further confer-
tbetween this attorney and the American Agency, as the result
reh it became evident that the German offer was apparently
iIipon an erroneous assumption as to the value of the property
-Vd the meaning and effect of certain official German and
.n records upon which the German Agency relied.
tipport of the claimant's position, the attorneys made a de-
ico'nparison of the inventories and valuations presented on
ctfthe claimant with those produced by the German Agent, for
_.pose of establishing the incompleteness of the information
bp bn by him, and they also procured and filed additional
r 'in support of the claimant's contentions. As a result of
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these developments the attorney wrote, on May 8, 1924, to thi
American Agent, reviewing thestatus of the evidence, and explaining;..i
the reasons why the offer of the German Agent was not acceptable;
which offer was respectfully declined.
In the summer of that year negotiations were resumed between
the American and German Agents looking to a settlement of this
claim, and in December, 1924, the American Agency reported a new
offer from the German Agent not to oppose an award for $8,000 with
interest at the rate of five per cent per annum from November 1U,
1918, to the date of payment. This offer was promptly reported: to
and accepted by the claimant, and .on January 30, 1925, an awaad'
in accordance with its terms, was made by this Commission on her
In the letter filed by the claimant's husband on her behalf, in i.
proceeding, he states: "On behalf of my wife, I have no comme ut
to make in regard to Mr. Hinton's presentment of his side of ,te
case except to acknowledge the general accuracy of his statements
It is clear from the letter filed by the claimant's husband that he
has been paying special attention to the safeguarding of her interests,
and that in bringing this proceeding she was acting on his advice.
It also appears that in advising that this proceeding be brought, he
was under the erroneous impression that the Congressional legis-
lation authorizing these proceedings required that fees in these cases
should be fixed at six per cent of the amount of the award. No
such provision is embodied in the Act as finally passed. It does not
fix any definite amount or any maximum or minimum percentage of
the award as the reasonable fee in these cases.
It is evident from the information submitted by the parties to this
proceeding, and from the records of this Commission, that this claim
was prepared with ability and prosecuted with diligence and sound
judgment, and that the attorneys necessarily devoted a very sub- .
stantial amount of time and attention to it. The services rendered
by the attorneys extended through a period of upwards of six years, .:
during which on account of the contingent character of the fee agrep- I.
ment, they received no compensation, and they were not even reiui,.f-:
bursed for the expenses necessarily incurred. :
In considering the value of the services rendered, and in fix14T
a reasonable fee as compensation therefore, it is proper to take int j
aerationn that the attorney now makes no claim for reimburse-
.:.of expenses, which was provided for in the first agreement,
4nigh not in the second, and also to take into consideration that
.i4aim was placed in the hands of these attorneys unsolicited by
.and that both of the fee agreements were made on the advice
.:jdlii er the supervision of the claimant's husband, who was a
|, business man. His reason for retaining Mr. Stobbart in
instance seems to have been because of their personal friend-
t~rough their business associations in the National Surety
iny in New York, by which, as above stated, they were both
ed. Another important fact to be taken into consideration is
*e second agreement, confirming and continuing the employ-
4fthe Washington attorney after the death of the New York
S was the result of careful consideration of the existing
P. by the claimant's husband, as shown by the correspondence
on between him and this attorney, leading up to this agree-
10t"'which demonstrated an intelligent and anxious desire on his
i to safeguard the interests of his wife, and which also demon-
il his ability to do so. It also must be noted that this second
friagWat was made after the award of the Commission had been
ped;, and, therefore, after both the claimant and the attorney
11y aware of exactly what services had been rendered in the
Hqqptaetion and prosecution of this claim.
3 American Commissioner has held in previous decisions in
i~ proceedings (Decisions No. 1 and No. 3) that when claim-
bi~aentirely competent to look after their own interests in mak-
g o :':ee agreement with their attorneys, they .fall within the group
fired to in the following extract from the Report of the Senate
goimittee on. Finance recommending this fee fixing legislation to
I:t is expected, however, that it will not be necessary to alter amounts fixed
1tbontract with large corporpotions and others fully capable of protecting
lK, ,own interests. In such cases the American Commissioner
..*; would undoubtedly be justified in fixing the amount specified in
ba those decisions the American Commissioner expressed his con-
nce in this view, and held that the word "reasonable" as used
ifee-fixing provisions of the Act can properly be given this
P i,;.: ., .:,;.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
74 3 1262 08484 1039
In the present case the American Commissioner holds tht::
the reasons hereinabove stated, not only was the claimant's hi.u
on whose advice she made the fee agreement, fully capablea4
tecting her interests, but that her interests were actually f l
tected in making that agreement. The American Commi*
further holds that the fee fixed by that agreement was reas:
not merely for the reason stated above, but also because thel:p~
of the fee was contingent upon securing and collecting aini
and finally, because the amount of the fee was justified when:i
by the value of the services actually rendered in this case.
Now, therefore, in these circumstances, and in view of th.e'.
rations stated in the general Jurisdictional and Adminstrati-
cision rendered by the American Commissioner under date St
tember 28, 1928, and after careful examination and full cofl
tion of the information furnished in this proceeding by thWi
and the claimant, and of the information pertinent to the. qi
involved in this case on file in the records of this Commissig;
after due deliberation thereon,
The American Commissioner decides and fixes as the re
fee to be paid by the claimant, Melanie Victorine Angell, to h:F
attorney, Bynum E. Hinton, the fee fixed by her agreement witbz
namely, twenty per cent of the amount received from the. T
Department in payment of this award, that is, twenty per cti
$11,821.01, which amounts to $2,364.20, from which must b:.b
ducted the amount of $600 already paid by the claimant t' i
attorney on account, leaving a balance of $1,764.20, said. fee pt
paid by the claimant and received by the attorney as full col C
station for all services rendered in the prosecution and colle.id
this claim, as defined in Section 9 of the "Settlement of War'I
Act of 1928."
Done at Washington, D. C., this 9th day of November, 192. H
CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
Ammeican Commissioner ,
Mixed Claimns Commission9
United States and G..