Thursday, May 14, 2015

Attorney fees in probate Cohen v. Perelman

Attorney fees in probate Cohen v. Perelman, Chancery Div.-Bergen Cy. (LaCruz, J.S.C.) On June 24, 2014, the court decided in favor of James S. Cohen, as Executor of the Estate of Robert B. Cohen and rejected the relief sought by Samantha O. Perelman concerning her claims of wrongdoing by her uncle, James, regarding the estate of her grandfather, Robert B. Cohen. As a result, the court dismissed Samantha's complaint with prejudice. However, the court found, in turn, that Samantha had reasonable cause to contest the validity of her grandfather's testamentary instruments and, as a consequence, James' frivolous litigation claims arising from litigation concerning the probate of his father's Last Will and Testament, which was deemed valid, were denied. In contemplation of the reasonable cause found on Samantha's part to have filed her claims and as permitted by R. 4:42-9(a)(3), the court granted Samantha an allowance that would include reasonable attorney fees and costs limited to the New Jersey litigation of the consolidated matters herein only, at prevailing New Jersey rates, to be paid out of the estate. Samantha was directed to submit her application for an allowance to the Special Discovery Master, Joseph P. Castiglia, Esq. The Discovery Master recommended that the total lodestar fee award to Samantha, for the entire case, should be in the amount of $11,924,533. The analysis continued and noted the award should be adjusted downward by 20% due to the result in the case, as Samantha ultimately was not successful on the merits of her undue influence claims against James. That downward recommendation netted a recommended fee award of $9,539,626. The recommended award for costs incurred for the entire case was set at $1,038,475. As such, $10,578,101 was the final molded total for attorney fees and costs for the entire case recommended by the Discovery Master. The court found a fair and reasonable award for attorney fees for this litigation at the New Jersey prevailing rates is $9,539,626. The total amount for costs and expenses that the court found fair and reasonable is $1,038,475. Therefore, the total amount of combined fees and costs is $10,578,101. Source njlj daily briefing

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