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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New Tennessee Supreme Court Decision: Calculating a Reasonable Attorney's Fee for Counsel When Representing a Minor

Yesterday the Tennessee Supreme Court released its opinion in Wright ex rel. Wright v. Wright, No. M2008-01181-SC-R11-CV (Tenn. Mar. 29, 2011). Here's the summary from the opinion, to wit:

We granted this appeal to determine the proper method for computing a reasonable attorney’s fee when the attorney represents a minor. In this case, after the attorney obtained a $425,000 settlement for a minor injured in an automobile accident, the trial court awarded the attorney $141,666.66, or one-third of the recovery, pursuant to the terms of the attorney’s contingent fee agreement with the minor’s father. The court-appointed guardian ad litem appealed the fee award, and the Court of Appeals reversed. Upon remand, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing and determined that $131,000 would be a reasonable attorney’s fee, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Reviewing for an abuse of discretion, we hold that the trial court applied the correct legal standard by analyzing the ten factors set forth in Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 8, Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5(a). We further hold that the fee award was neither illogical, based on an erroneous assessment of the evidence, nor an injustice to the minor. We therefore affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Here's a link to the opinion:

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