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N.A. v. County of Monterey

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


July 23, 2008

N.A. AND A.A., MINORS BY AND THROUGH THEIR GUARDIAN AD LITEM, RICHARD H. WEST, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
COUNTY OF MONTEREY; LUCILLE HRALIMA AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; STEVEN SINOR AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; MICHELLE CASSILLAS AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; PAT MANNION AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; EVLA MANCILLA AS AN EMPLOYEE OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; ADA SIFUENTES AND ANTONIO SIFUENTES, AS AGENT AND/OR STATE ACTOR OF THE COUNTY OF MONTEREY; AND DOES 1 TO 100, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ronald M. Whyte United States District Judge

ORDER APPROVING COMPROMISE OF DISPUTED CLAIMS OF MINORS AND AWARD OF ATTORNEY'S FEES

Richard H. West, Guardian Ad Litem for minors N.A. and A.A., seeks court approval of the compromise of said minors' claims and payment of attorney's fees. The court previously approved the settlement subject to further proof as to the reasonableness of the attorney's fees requested. Petitioner seeks approval of fees in the amount of $100,000 or 33a % of the gross recovery for the minors. Counsel waives their costs of $2657.39.

The court is satisfied that the settlement is in the best interest of each of the minors considering the amount to be paid and the structure of the settlements. In fact, the settlement seems very favorable to the minors based upon the circumstances. Normally, the court would hesitate to authorize payment in excess of 25% of the net recovery as a contingent fee. However, given the result, the work that was involved and the difficult factual and legal issues, the court is willing in this case to authorize the requested amount. Although the lodestar calculation is in excess of the fees requested, the court does find the calculation inflated by excessive hourly rates by three separate attorneys and by generous allocations of time.*fn1 Nevertheless, the superior result merits a premium over the usual 25% contingency fee for minors.

The court approves the purchase of the proposed annuities at this time and awards $100,000 in attorney's fees.


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