A California appeals court has snatched away $5 million in fees from attorneys at three top firms in a dispute over the riches of a deceased shopping mall magnate.
The state's 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the trial court erroneously "rubber stamped" requests for attorney fees by Loeb & Loeb, Jones Day and Greenberg Traurig. The law firms represented the former trustee of Daniel W. Donahue's estate. Donahue, who died in 2002, was chairman of Donahue Schriber Realty Group Inc., a Costa Mesa, Calif., real estate firm that owned numerous shopping centers in California and other western states.
Reversing the fee award on Feb. 24, the three-judge panel said that the firms' client, Patrick Donahue, had embarked on a "spare no expense strategy" by hiring the three firms at once. The panel, in remanding the case, ruled that although the client's strategy may have benefited him, it was questionable whether it benefited the Donahue trust.
"Did Patrick demand a Rolls Royce defense when a prudent trustee could have arrived at the same destination in a Buick, Chrysler or Taurus?" the court wrote.
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Court Tosses $5 Million Fee Award, Saying Trustee Overpaid for 'Rolls-Royce Defense"