St. Louis Record

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Judge awards attorneys roughly $10,000 each in case against Minnesota Life Insurance over policy

Lawsuits

By John Suayan | Apr 23, 2019


ST. LOUIS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, Northern Division awarded attorney’s fees in an early 2018 lawsuit against Minnesota Life Insurance Co.

On April 9, Judge Catherine D. Perry issued an order wholly approving requests for the fees submitted by guardians ad litem and attorneys of record William P. Grant and Jeffrey P. Medler.

Perry’s order partially approves a similar request from attorney Albert S. Watkins.

The ruling states Lynlee Renick filed a declaratory judgment action against Minnesota Life in 2018, claiming her two children were entitled to a $1 million death benefit under her deceased husband’s insurance policy as secondary beneficiaries. Watkins represented the family.

In response the defendant answered with a counterclaim for interpleader, naming Renick, E.R., and M.G. as potential claimants to the insurance proceeds.

"Because of a potential conflict between the named claimants’ interests, I denied Renick’s request to be appointed next friend of E.R. and M.G., and I appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) for each of the minor children,” wrote Perry. “Specifically, I appointed William P. Grant as GAL and attorney of record for E.R. I appointed Jeffrey P. Medler as GAL and attorney of record for M.G.”

Renick, meanwhile, disavowed her interest in the interpleaded insurance proceeds while the children, through their respective GALs, have settled their claims to the proceeds, the order additionally stated.

Perry awarded Grant $9,050 in attorney’s fees, “representing 20 hours of work expended at a rate of $350/hour, and 8.2 hours of work expended at a rate of $250/hour.” She awarded Medler $9,755 in attorney’s fees and $781.05 in expenses for “25.9 hours of charged work expended at a rate of $350/hour, and 4.6 hours of work expended at a rate of $150/hour.”

“Upon review of the detailed billing records, I find the time expended to be reasonable and the hourly rates appropriate,” wrote Perry in response to Grant and Medler’s requests.

On Feb. 12, Watkins submitted a request for $388.95 in costs and $83,146.50 in attorney’s fees generated from “approximately 255 hours of representation,” but Perry awarded him only $10,000 and costs in the amount of $430.

According to the order, the judge saw “no reason why 13 legal professionals from his law firm were required in this effort and why such substantial time was expended in what Watkins himself characterized as an uncontested issue between the claimants.”

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