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


Material Information

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.
Mixed Claims Commission, United States and Germany
U.S. G.P.O.
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:
completely irregular


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


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:

Full Text

1-. : U.S. .r.""* TgBY







,KET NO. 5897

e Stan.ley M. Seaman
if D. Noyes
tk A. Morey

)KET NO. 5964

r Jacob M. Haskell
rD. Noyes
lbsKE. Morey
-A. Morey
rt A. Morgan
S, Bidder


Schooner Edtward D. Cole
Porter H. Adams
Walter D. Noyes


Schooner Dorothy B. Barrett
James E. Coburn
Frank A. Morey
Ernest L. Morrill
Walter D. Noyes
Edwin B. Ross

';i@EAodyett, Jones, B rnham & Bingham, Attorneys

Amer .tA5*ior

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Established in pursuance of the Agreement between the
United States and Germany of Aug-ust 10, 1922

American Cctnnrnissioner
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United States and Germany of August 10, 1922 4.

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| DOCKET NO. 5897
owner Stanley M. Seaman
Walter D. Noyes
kank A. Morey
i... Claimants

J: DOCKET NO. 5964
Sooner Jacob M. Haskell
'.Walter D. Noyes
arlzes E. Morey
jrank A. Morey
..bPert A. Morgan
itdselausw P. de Ridder
.- Claimants

Schooner Edward D. Cole
Porter H. Adams
Walter D. Noyes

Schooner Dorothy B. Barrett
James E. Coburn
Frank A. Morey
Ernest L. Morrill
Walter D. Noyes
Edwin B. Ross

Blodgett, Jones, Burnham & Bingham, Attorneys

ch of the above named claimants has duly filed with the Ameri-
bOmmissioner a written request that he fix a reasonable fee to be
i by each of them to their attorneys, Blodgett, Jones, Burnham
S2:::934-28 (79)

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& Bingham, of Boston, Massachusetts, as compensation for whatever
services have been rendered by them on behalf of and with the
authority of said claimants, such services being of the character
described in the provisions of Section 9 of the "Settlement ,of War
Claims Act of 1928 ".
The claimants have objected to the amount of the fee asked by the
attorneys on the ground that it is excessive, and the attorneys have
been notified of the filing by the claimants of this request that a rea-
sonable fee be fixed. The attorneys, in response to a request by the
American Commissioner, have filed with him affidavits giving the in-:.
formation which they desire to have considered by him as showing
the reasonableness of the fee asked, which information has been
brought to the attention of the claimants, and they, in turn, have
filed affidavits or letters in reply, copies of which have been trans-
mitted to the attorneys.
The amount of the fee asked by the attorneys, as compensation for.
their services, is twenty per cent of the amount received by the
claimants from the Treasury Department in payment of their re- '
spective shares of the awards made by this Commission on their
These awards represented the net damages, as ascertained by this
Commission, suffered by the owners of the schooners "Stanley M.
Seaman," Docket No. 5897, "Jacob M. Haskell," Docket No. 5964,.
"Edward D. Cole," Docket No. 5965, and "Dorothy B. Barrett," 7'
Docket No. 5966, as the result of their destruction by a German sub- .'
marine in the Summer of 1918.
It appears from the affidavits filed by the attorneys that in Novem- :ii.
her. 1922, they were retained by Crowell and Thurlow, the manaiging- P
owners of the first three above mentioned schooners, and by G. .
Deering Company, the managing owners of the other schooner, to
prosecute the claims of the owners of these schooners for damage W1
resulting from their destruction. .Q
It was agreed and understood that the attorneys were to rendLr\
their services on a contingent fee basis, to be paid if and when it .....
cover was had. No agreement was made at that time as to ,:.h"
percentage of the amount recovered was to be paid as a fee, nodr a
reimbursement for expenses. 4

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l^qrose, and continuously thereafter until the ratification of the
i of Berlin, the shares held by the respective claimants were
:,by an American national, and proof was also required of the
r.-,title to the shares held by each claimant. This information
I|ured by the attorneys in most instances through the claim-
aUJt in some cases by the attorneys themselves directly from
,records. Procuring this information involved a very con-
I amount of work and extensive correspondence on the part
4j;affidavits filed by the attorneys in these proceedings state
1!4ortly after they were retained by the managing owners they
tI... letter to each of the shareholders of the four vessels, stating
ey had been asked by the managing owners to represent the
rklders in their claims before this Commission, and inclosing
of affidavit setting forth the nationality of and number of
owned by each, the facts of. the sinking and other details in
ort of each claim, and requesting them to execute and return
affidavits It also appears that in response to these letters, all
fe claimants executed the affidavits and returned them to the
neys for presentation to the Commission. The attorneys there-
n. prepared a petition in each of these four cases, setting forth the
6:.on which the claims arose, the names and nationality of the
live shareholders, and the number of shares held by each, which
L5s. were duly sworn to by the managing owners of each vessel
pled with this Commission together with the above mentioned
jts of the claimants. Much of this early information was
ate and incomplete, and had to be supplemented by further
tian procured later by the attorneys.
rt From this proof of the American nationality of each claim,
reof the work did not require correspondence or conferences
the attorneys and the individual owners, and practically
h subsequent dealings were had with the managing owners
schooners, and with the American Agency.
gentlyy the claimants were not kept well informed by the
g owners, or by the attorneys, as to the extent and character
work being performed by the attorneys on their behalf in
the damages incurred.

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As- to the character and extent of the services rendered, it appears ,,
from the record that in the case of each of these vessels the attorneys' ::
were called upon by the American Agency to establish the net i
damages suffered through the loss of these vessels, which required
proof of the value of each vessel, the amount of any insurance re-
covered, the value of stores on board, and the terms of any out-
standing charters or other encumbrances on the vessels at that timiee.
The records show that on the question of valuation the attorneys
engaged in extensive discussions with the members of the Agency's K
legal staff in charge of these cases, which discussions were carried
on by correspondence, and also in conferences both in Washington
and in Boston with the Agency's representatives. The chief sub- ::|
jects embraced in these discussions were the classification of the ||
vessels, the cost of construction and of betterments, the sales of
shares in the vessels, the general question of value, the form of proof
of claim for loss of pending freight, and for loss of consumable, :
stores, the character of the voyage and the form and amount of the '::
As to the value of the vessels, the records of this Commission show '
that two experts on ship construction and ship values were appointed
by the Commission and that they placed upon these schooners the
following values:
Stanley M. Selnman------------------------- ------$130,000 ..
Jacob M. Haskell -------------------------------- $180, 000 ,
Edward H. Cole --------------------------------- $190, 000
Dorothy B. Barrett ------------------------------- $230,000
In the affidavits filed by the attorneys they state that "the long
specialization of this firm in maritime business had given us of our'.;i:,|
own knowledge a familiarity with vessel values ", and they stAm4i
further that at their discussions with the Counsel of the Americasi
Agency in Washington and in Boston certain facts, justifying:
higher valuation for these vessels, which they had ascertained aiM
established, were urged upon the attention of the Agency's Coun
and that a brief compiled by him of information collected on
values of similar vessels was discussed with reference to these f,
with the result that in each of these cases the following inerea
valuations were established, and were finally adopted by the Ami
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iL, ana uaerman Agents, ana nmau awards were entereu vaseu u1i Lte
wing higher valuations:
I.Stanley M. Seaman ------------- -------------- $145,000
SJacob M. Haskell -------- ------------------ $222,250
N Edward H. Cole --------- ------------ -- $222, 000
.,.::-Dorothy B. Barrett--------------------------- $281,900
.l.ese affidavits further state that evidence was collected, and affi-
tiewere prepared, executed and filed in support of the claims of
!Ewners for consumable stores on board each of these vessels, and
for the following amounts were secured for that item of
g&s for the benefit of all the shareholders:
SStanley .M. Seaman----------------------------- $2,000
Mb Haskell -------------------- $1,000
Edward H. Cole -------------------------- $1,000
.:'v-Dorothy B. Barrett --------------------------- $1, 000
Jt!ht-hree of these cases, "Jacob M. Haskell ", Edward H. Cole"
"a"'Dorothy B. Barrett", the owners claimed for pending freight
M$-ings, and the attorneys' affidavits show that considerable work
is'ldpone by them in preparing evidence supporting this item.
Season of the contingent character of their compensation agree-
JiL, this work cannot be considered in fixing the fee for their
pricesces in these cases, because this Commission subsequently ren-
Aire a decision disallowing claims of that character, so that this
N Midence eventually was not used.
T; he attorneys' affidavits also show that in addition to the services described a large amount of miscellaneous detail work was
P~Aessary in the presentation and prosecution of these claims, the
ter part of which inured to the benefit of all the claimants, and
:i this work involved voluminous and extensive correspondence in
:.i:tion, to the correspondence carried on with-the claimants. The
eys further state that they were in constant touch with the
native proceedings looking,to the payment of these claims, and
&ed such assistance as was possible in furthering the interests
.a claimants.
RI" the purposes of these proceedings it is unnecessary to go into
4, 4estion of what authority the managing owners had to act for
terieholders in retaining these attorneys for the prosecution of
.claims, because all of the shareholders subsequently sanctioned
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this action of the managing owners by their acquiescence therein an4
their cooperation with the attorneys after notice of such empla.-::"
ment, and because they have accepted the benefits derived therefrom.
These attorneys, accordingly, were duly authorized to act on behalf
of these claimants in the prosecution of their claims, and these claim-
ants are legally obligated to pay these attorneys a reasonable fee for
the services actually rendered on their behalf. The only question.
now presented in these proceedings is what fee is reasonable in.
The fee agreement between the managing owners and the attorney
left open to be determined later the question of the amount of th.e .f^
The attorneys, on their part, have now valued their services as worth:
a fee of twenty per cent of the total amount recovered, and this
valuation was proposed by them to the claimants after the award.
was made and with full knowledge on their part as to the extent and
character of the services rendered.
In support of the reasonableness of this proposed fee, the attorney '
have submitted a copy of a letter addressed on April 7, 1928, -by
Messrs. Crowell and Thurlow, the managing owners of the schoonert
"Stanley M. Seaman," "Jacob M. Haskell," and "Edward D. Cole,".
to the shareholders of those vessels, expressing the opinion that t .
proposed fee is fair and satisfactory. They say in this letter:
These claims have been in process of adjustment ever since the date of tbw.
sinking in July 1918, and have necessitated a large amount of legal work, both...
in the preparation and presentation of the claims, and in the securing of. a
satisfactory valuation of the schooner. Having given careful consideration to
the proposed charge, we are satisfied that it is fair and reasonable. We ha .::
also inquired as to charges made by other attorneys for similar work, and. :'
find these other attorneys are charging no less, and in many instances mno....
than the charge proposed by our attorneys. We, therefore. recommend that ya*:
sign the assent to this charge and return the assent at once to the attorney,, ..-
as by so doing the payment of the award will not be delayed.
In this connection it is to be noted that the attorneys state in their,',i
affidavits that they represent. fifty-three of the shareholders of. the:: :.3F
"Stanley M. Seaman" and that fifty-one of them, constituting 96i:
per cent, have assented to their charge, also that they, represent .sixty....
five of the shareholders of the "Jacob M. Haskell" and that sixty 0.Q
them, constituting 92.3 per cent, have assented to their charge, an
finally, that. they represent fifty-four of the shareholders of the "

xd "1. Cole and that fifty-one of them, constituting 94.4 per cent,
...assented to their charge.
. ,,.attorneys have also submitted in support of the reasonable-
f the fee charged by them a. letter addressed to them on August
.B, 8-, by G. G. Deering Company, the managing owners of the
ner Dorothy B. Barrett," in which they state, "We are familiar
i'fthe work done by your firm in handling the claim for the
s of this schooner against the German Government. We con-
:your charge of twenty per cent of the amount received to be
f-d. reasonable and we have already agreed to it."
this connection also, the attorneys set out in their affidavits the
ehtage of the shareholders of this vessel who have assented to
... e. They state that they represent seventy-three of the share-
Wr6s of the Dorothy B. Barrett" and that sixty-four of them,
IRituting 87.6 per cent, have assented to their charge.
1-in further support of the reasonableness of the twenty per cent fee
~ld 'by the attorneys, they submit a letter written to them at their
u'est under date of August 14, 1928, by the Counsel for the
hirican Agency who was in charge of these claims. He says:

With reference to the question of value, the details of which were especially
'thin my knowledge, I consider that the services rendered by your firm were
i.:.taint and efficient and were instrumental in obtaining the very satisfactory
tiMs from the Mixed Claims Commission.
IOW- establish value, it was required by the Commission that it be shown
,it t.e value claimed for each vessel was the fair market value of the vessel,
of the time and place of loss, if there was a market, otherwise its intrinsic
,fit'.. It was necessary, therefore, in order to sustain the value claimed, to
iiis the fact that there wasi a market for vessels of a similar character,
il y, that there had, been transactions in which similar vessels had been
t .'and. sold during the approximate period of loss of the vessels in question
i ina- addition, that the prices paid in such sales fully sustained the fairness
i' value claimed for the lost vessels. Your firm was of material assistance
American Agency in connection with establishing the value of the vessels
*.uo1,d and the information and suggestions which you supplied when included
pithe evidence secured from the attorneys for other claimants, made it pos-
f tihe American Agency to establish the two-fold requirement and bring
the Tultimate agreement with the German Agency of the values upon which
as were based.
d. tton to the foregoing, upon various occasions the question of value
vesselsl s was very thoroughly examined and discussed between your firm:
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and myself and the various features necessary of consideration were studied, I .......
the light of evidence assembled.
The responsibility for the values ultimately fixed for the four vessels nain:,::'
above rested entirely upon the assent by your firmly to and your insistence pfiliqh: i:
such values and refusal to accept the much lower valuations originally propos~:i
by the American and German experts on ship values. Your firm was the only:::
representative of the owners of these four vessels with whom I dealt on th
question of values, and that question, so far as the owners were concerned, .was
settled between your firm and myself as Assistant Counsel to the
The point has been made that the services rendered by the attorneys
in establishing the ownership and American nationality of each
claim are chargeable only against the individual claimant concern~i,
and inasmuch as the ownership and American nationality of most of
the individual claims now under consideration were established, by
evidence produced by the claimants themselves, the attorneys' charge: ;
as to those claims should be reduced accordingly.
It is true that a substantial part of the services rendered by these:
attorneys in establishing the right of the individual claimants to'
participate in the damages resulting from the destruction of these .
vessels was rendered primarily for the benefit of the individual
claimant concerned, nevertheless, this work was essentially, though .
indirectly, for the benefit of all the claimants. The presentation of
complete information establishing the rights of all the claimants
was required by the American Agency before submitting these claims
to the Commission for decision. Accordingly, in procuring this in-
formation as to each individual claimant, the attorneys in effect were :
expediting the action of the Commission in rendering its awards in
these cases, and, to that extent at least, each claimant derived an ',
appreciable benefit from the services rendered by these attorneys on: i,::
behalf of all the other claimants..
So far as the services rendered by the attorneys in establishing the6': ::
amount of the damages suffered are concerned, such services obviously :!....'
were rendered for the benefit of all the claimants in proportion to...
their several interests, and compensation for such services should b' i
paid by each claimant on the same percentage basis in each case. ..'.
The most important part of their work in establishing the amonit
of damages suffered was in proving the value of the vessels at th."
time of their loss, and, as stated in the attorneys' affidavits, and. l

a very much higher valuation placed on these vessels than
':have been adopted without their intervention and assistance.
figures showing the amount of the increase secured by the
s in the valuation of each of these four vessels are set out
,fid show that the total increase amounted to $141,150.
amountt of $141,150, having been embodied in the awards,
.....interest at the rate of five per cent per annum from November
', in each case, which, up to the date of payment, amounted
tit fifty per cent of the principal, and, accordingly, added
imately $70,000 more to the valuation of the vessels, thus, in
the increased valuation of the vessels increased the amount
ki by the shareholders by approximately $210,000. This total
e in the value of these claims, for securing which the attorneys
Oitled to the credit, is very much more than twenty per cent of
~tal amount of the awards made on behalf of all the shareholders
.ie vessels, and the same is true with respect to each vessel taken
t ely. Accordingly, in addition to the general value of the
ii.s rendered by these attorneys in carrying these claims through
...iccessful and satisfactory conclusion, it is thus demonstrated
ti.:eir services had a special cash value to the claimants greatly
4ls&s of the amount of the fee which they are charging for such

0.eionsidering the value of the services rendered, and in fixing a
a*nable fee as compensation therefore, it is proper to take into
idteration that, as above noted, the fee asked by the attorneys is
Y covered by the increase, due to their efforts, in the amount of
awards. It is also proper to take into consideration that the
gces rendered by these attorneys extended through a period of
yards of five years, during which, on account of the contingent
aicer of the fee agreement, they received no compensation and
w as always the chance that they might never receive any com-
'tion. It must also be taken into consideration that these at-
s. are making no claim for any expenses and disbursements
rOed by them, all of which are included in their charge for
iesi, and it is evident from the records and from their affidavits
.ey incurred large expenses in the presentation of these claims.

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a 88 3 1262 08484 1054

Now, therefore, considering that the payment of any fee to
attorneys was contingent upon securing and collecting an awarF.
that the fee to be paid includes all disbursements and expense
considering the character and extent and value of the service
dered by these attorneys, and in view of the considerations.
the general Jurisdictional and Administrative Decision ren
the American Commissioner under date of September 28,..:
after careful examination and full consideration of the inform |
furnished in these proceedings by the attorneys and the :elMa
and by the records of this Commission pertinent to the g.:.e
involved, and after due deliberation thereon,
The American Commissioner decides and fixes as the ra
fees to be paid to the attorneys Blodgett, Jones, Burniha4iV ',
Bingham, by each of the claimants, Walter D. Noyes, Fr
Morey, Charles E. Morey, Albert A. Morgan, Stanislaus P. d.
Porter H. Adams, James E. Coburn, Ernest L. Morrill and. .i4
Ross, the parties to these. proceedings, an amount equal o
per cent of the amount received by each of these claimant4os,
tively, from the Treasury Department, in payment of thi!
rendered on their behalf, said fees to be paid by the said cl1
and received by these attorneys as full compensation for al11
rendered in the prosecution and collection of these claims,a ,
by Section 9 of the "Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928 '.
Done at Washington, D. C., this 16th day of November, 19 8
A me rican Comorissioner, 'i B
Mixed Claims CoWzmissiony
United States and G