situation presented. If such considerations lead to the conclusion that the settlement agreed upon by the plaintiffs in the suit is not unfair or unreasonable to the corporation (in which all the other stockholders have their interest), then the action of the plaintiffs in compromising the suit should be approved."
This Court has reviewed this matter at length and concludes that the proposed settlement is fair and reasonable to the claimants, on the basis of the actual amounts to be received, and on the basis of the possibilities of successful termination of the litigation.
Counsel have petitioned this Court to approve fees in the amount of 20 per cent of the total settlement. Counsel fees would total $ 1,279,071.51, or $ 1,036,309.82 from the Yokohama funds and $ 242,761.69 from the Sumitoma funds.
Section 20 of the Trading with the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C.App. 20, as amended), provides for counsel fees of 10 per cent of such payment. However, the section further provides for a higher fee in the following manner:
'* * * The court hearing such petition, or a court awarding any judgment in respect of any such property or interest or proceeds, as the case may be, shall approve an aggregate of fees in excess of 10 per centum of the value of such property or interest or proceeds only upon a finding that there exist special circumstances of unusual hardship which require the payment of such excess. * * *'
Counsel for the Government in approving the proposed compromise have agreed that they would offer no objection to an aggregate of fees not in excess of 20 per cent.
This litigation has required the services of 33 attorneys, who have devoted varying amounts of time over the past seventeen years. The six principal attorneys have set forth detailed affidavits to substantiate their petition for an aggregate of fees of 20 per cent.
Mr. Thomas W. Carolan estimates he has averaged 15 hours a week during the past seventeen years. He further states that he has written in excess of 30,000 letters, 17,000 of which were dictated. He estimates his total expenditures, not including office overhead, at $ 66,894.92.
In addition to the litigation over the years, Mr. Carolan also devoted numerous hours to legislative hearings. Prior to 1953, when the Office of Alien Property was delaying the hearing on the subject claims, various bills were introduced in Congress which would have eliminated the debt claims. The bills had the active support of the Office of Alien Property.
One bill passed the Senate in spite of the opposition by Mr. Carolan. It failed to come before the House. Subsequent bills were introduced into both Houses and counsel devoted many hours to opposing them and testified before legislative committees on various occasions.
Mr. Philip W. Amram has been counsel since 1958. He estimates that his overhead costs, including the services of his partners and associates, to be between $ 30,000 and $ 40,000.
Mr. Roger E. Brooks estimates that he has devoted 446 hours to this litigation since 1958. Mr. James P. Parker estimates that he has devoted 120 hours. The sum total of estimated time by Messrs. Brooks, Parker and Kashiwa is 1330 hours. For these services they may expect to divide a maximum fee of $ 42,700.
Finally, Mr. Alfred Gitelson of California estimates that his services occupied in excess of 7,500 lawyer's work hours, and he estimates that his staff expenses were not less than $ 50,000.00.
It is the opinion of this Court that counsel have clearly substantiated their petition for an aggregate of fees in the amount of 20 per cent of the total payment. Not only is this amount justified by the estimated hours expended, but the compromise is clearly a successful termination for the claimants and the diligence demonstrated by counsel is in keeping with the highest traditions of the legal profession.
This Court will issue an interlocutory order approving the compromise settlement and awarding counsel fees in the amount of 20 per cent, subject to a final hearing prior to which the claimants will be afforded opportunity to object to the settlement and the counsel fees.
This Order will direct counsel for plaintiffs to give notice of the Order to all claimants, informing them that a final hearing will be held on Monday, April 27, 1964, at which time they may appear personally or by counsel if they wish to oppose the compromise or the award of attorneys' fees, or to submit objections in writing to this Court before the hearing date.
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