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:
AA00008543:00070

Full Text

THE AMERICAN COMMISSIONER

MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION

UNITED STATES AND GERMANY


DECISION NO. 21

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. 5432


Wilfrid Gaek, Claimant

John May, Attorney


CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
American Comamissioner


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THE AMERICAN COMMISSIONER

MIXED CLAIMS COMMISSION

UNITED STATES AND GERMANY


DECISION NO. 21

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. 5432


Wilfrid Gack, Claimant
John May, 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
him to his attorney, John May, of New Orleans, Louisiana, as com-
pensation for whatever services have been rendered by him 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
Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928 ".
The claimant has objected to the amount of the fee asked by the
attorney on the ground that it is excessive, and the attorney has been
duly notified of the filing by the claimant of his request that a
reasonable fee be fixed. The attorney has filed with the American
Commissioner an affidavit giving the information which he desires
to have considered by the Commissioner as showing the reasonable-
281456C -29 (145)
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146


ness of the fee asked, which information has been brought to tj
attention of the claimant, who has filed an affidavit in reply, a copg,..
of which has been transmitted to the attorney.
In this case an award was rendered by this Commission on Aprii!
22, 1925, on behalf of the claimant, for $23,243.66, with interej
thereon at the rate of five per cent per annum from August 15, 1915"i1
to the date of payment, which amount represents the claimant's share:.
of the proceeds of the sale of a large quantity of cotton belonging!
to the English partnership of Gassner and Company of New Orleansij
and Liverpool, of which firm the claimant was a member, which cot-':
ton was seized by Germany on August 15, 1915, and sold by that:
Government in the open market.
The amount of the fee asked by the attorney as compensation for:'
his services is $2,500.
It appears from the attorney's affidavit that on or about December |i
6, 1922, the claimant called at this attorney's office and stated that.:
as a partner in the firm of Gassner and Company, he wished this
attorney to present his claim in proper form to the Department of:i
State and to the Mixed Claims Commission. No written authoriza-
tion was given to this attorney nor was any agreement entered into
for services to be rendered, but, the attorney adds, it was my under-:
standing, in so far as I thought of it at all, that I would charge a4
reasonable fee, whether successful or not, such fee, naturally, to be,
larger, in case I succeeded in recovering a substantial amount of the,
claim."
The above statements are not denied by the claimant in the affidavit:
submitted by him in these proceedings.
Subsequent to the above conference between the claimant and t
attorney, the latter made an examination of the documents left by thu||
claimant with the attorney and a number of conferences were h
by the attorney with the claimant prior to the preparation of
petition. On December 12, 1922, this attorney filed with the Seec..
tary of State the claimant's petition to which he attached copies
claimant's naturalization certificate and partnership agreement,
originals or copies of other docuAents showing the amount and va.
of the cotton seized and sold by the German Government.
wards, on May 14, 1923, the American Agency wrote to the claim
suggesting that additional documents should be submitted show*






147

more clearly (1) the nature of the transaction involving the cotton
shipments in question, (2) when the cotton was seized in Hamburg
and Bremen, (3) that the claimant had never received any indemnifi-
cation for the loss. and (4) definite proof of the ownership of the
cotton at, the time of seizure. Affidavits prepared by this attorney
covering the above items were subsequently secured and forwarded
to the American Agency by this attorney.
In view of the fact that the partnership of Gassner and Company
had been dissolved and the assets liquidated, the Agency wrote to
this attorney on December 8, 1993, instructing him that the proofs
of the claimant's interest will have to include proceedings to show
that the creditors of the firm have all been satisfied", and that he
"should not leave it to the Commission to construe the co-partnership
agreement. Your petition should show what share Mr. Gack claims,
and your proofs should demonstrate that he is entitled to that share ".
Accordingly, this attorney prepared and forwarded to the Agency
affidavits of two of the claimant's partners touching upon the matters
referred to in the above-mentioned letter from the Agency.
In order to obtain the above-mentioned affidavits it was necessary
for the attorney to confer at intervals with the claimant and to
correspond with the affiants in Germany and the United States.
The attorney further states that "all letters written to the Depart-
ment of State, or to the Claims Commission, beginning with the
letter of December 12, 1922, forwarding the petition, were written
by me, although some of them may have been constructed in the
first person and signed by Mr. Gack".
The claimant does not deny any of the above statements as to the
services rendered by this attorney on his behalf, but he contends that
his claim was 6' of a very simple character and its allowance or dis-
allowance did in nowise depend upon the arguments and the skill of
a legal mind. It was simply a statement of facts, easily substan-
tiated." The claimant adds that the facts were furnished by him to
the attorney, which wars naturally to be expected in the circumstances.
He also adds that the attorney's letters to the Commission in connec-
tion with this claim were virtual copies of drafts prepared in the
L claimant's office. The attorney has not replied specifically to this
i statement, but it appears from his affidavit that these letters were
written at his suggestion after conferences with the claimant, and it


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148 .::,:..

is clear that they were put in final form by the attorney, who'w .7ii
responsible for this correspondence which was carried on undep1 .i
supervision and direction so far as the claimant was concerned.
No brief on any question of law or fact was filed by this attorz4;,.
with the American Agent, and no conferences were held by him w ,,ii :
the American Agent or his representatives, but he had occasioni. .;.
discuss in correspondence with the American Agency several M::.i:
portant features of the claim. '
After the receipt of the above evidence, the American Agency too.
this case up with the German Agent with the result that he offered:
not to oppose an award to the claimant for the sum of $13,700, wiji, -
interest thereon at the rate of five per cent per annum from Auguiati
15, 1915. This offer was communicated to the attorney, who, aftri
consultation with the claimant, notified the American Agency that .
the offer was not acceptable and indicated his desire to proceed with
the presentation and submission of the claim to the Commission for
its decision. The Agency replied that the Assistant Counsel, pro-
viously in charge of the claim, who had since resigned, evidently had
misunderstood the terms of the partnership agreement and under-
estimated the claimant's share in the assets of the firm, and accord-
ingly submitted for the claimant's consideration a suggestion of
settlement for $21,920.
This attorney, after consultation with the claimant, wrote to the
Agency refusing to settle for the increased amount suggested, and
showing by an analysis of the facts and transactions on which the.
claim was based that the claimant was entitled to an even large-
amount, but offering to adjust the claim on a compromise basis of -
$23,243.66, with interest from the date of seizure, which would be.
satisfactory to the claimant. This settlement was agreed to by
the German Agent and ultimately was embodied in the award. of
this Commission. The total amount received by the claimant front :
the Treasury Department in payment of the award in this case
amounted to approximately. $38,000.
The attorney does not claim that he was put to any important
expense in the preparation anc6presentation of this claim, and it is
understood by the American Commissioner in fixing the fee for thl:
attorney's services that no additional charge is to be made by him.
for disbursements.






149

Now, therefore, considering the character and extent and value
of the services rendered by this attorney, and in view of the con-
siderations stated above and in the American Commissioner's general
Jurisdictional and Administrative Decision of September 28, 1928,
and after careful examination and full consideration of the informa-
tion furnished in this proceeding by the attorney and the claimant
and by the records of this Commission pertinent to the questions
involved, and after due deliberation thereon.
The American Commissioner decides and fixes as the reasonable
fee to be paid by the claimant, Wilfrid Gack, to his said attorney,
John May, in this case, the sum of two thousand five hundred dol-
lars ($2,500), the said fee to be paid by the claimant and received
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 Claims Act of 1928 ".
Done at Washington, D. C., this 21st day of December, 1928.
CHANDLER P. ANDERSON,
American Commissioner,
Mixed Claims Commission,
United States and Germany.

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