The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Christina A. Snyder
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW [F.R.C.P. 52(a); LOCAL RULE 52-1 et. seq.]
This interpleader case concerns entitlement to the death benefits payable under a life insurance policy issued by plaintiff American General Life and Accident Insurance Company ("AGLA") to the decedent Lisha Wu. On May 11, 2009 the Court discharged AGLA as an innocent stakeholder. The cross-claim of Cross-claimant attorney Shin P. Yang ("Yang") for legal fees against Ning Wu, Bin Wu and Jun Wu ("Wu Cross-defendants"), the named beneficiaries of Lisha Wu's life insurance, was tried before the Court on November 12, 2009. The Court, having considered the evidence presented at trial, the case file and the submissions of counsel, sets forth its findings of fact and conclusions of law.
1. The findings of fact set forth in the Court's October 19, 2009 order for partial summary judgment in favor of the Wu Cross-defendants are incorporated herein.
2. The only retainer agreement between the parties providing for payment of legal fees or costs by the Wu Cross-defendants to Yang is the March 21, 2007 retainer (Yang October 5, 2009 Decl., Exhib. 8; Jun Wu September 30, 2009 Decl., Exhib. A-1; Ning Wu September 30, 2009 Decl., Exhib. A-1; Bin Wu September 30, 2009 Decl., Exhib. A-1).
3. The only subject matter of the March 21, 2007 retainer is the Estate of Lisha Wu's potential wrongful death action resulting from the automobile accident which killed Lisha Wu in Tuba City, Arizona on July 31, 2006.
4. The March 21, 2007 retainer is a contingency fee agreement, and no legal fees or costs are payable to Yang unless Yang obtains "compensation" in the matter. Yang did not obtain any compensation in the matter of the automobile accident.
5. In its partial summary judgment order, dated October 19, 2009, the Court found that the March 21, 2007 retainer is voidable by the Wu Cross-defendants.
6. There are no other oral or written agreements between Yang and the Wu Cross-defendants for the performance of legal services by Yang, or for payment of legal fees or costs by the Wu Cross-defendants to Yang. Also, the Wu Cross-defendants and Yang never agreed that Yang would be entitled to receive a portion of, or receive payment from, the life insurance benefits payable as a result of Lisha Wu's death.
7. There is a dispute in the record about whether the Wu Cross-defendants terminated Yang's services in April 2007 or July 2007, but in any event Yang's services were terminated no later than July 9, 2007.
8. To the extent Yang provided any legal services in connection with the life insurance claim, such legal services were very routine.
9. Yang did not make a substantial showing that he achieved results for the Wu Cross-defendants in any matter other than the automobile accident matter.
10. Exhibit 48, Yang's compilation of hours worked and costs incurred, is imprecise, contains many duplications, is not reasonable and is not credible.
11. The number of hours Yang claims he worked, and the amount of money to which Yang claims he is entitled, appear to be ...