Cases & Deals

Fourth Circuit sets standards for review of settlements and fee awards

Clients Amicus to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit requested that Jones Day serve as amicus to the Court and address the authority of the federal district court to examine and alter contingency fee arrangements when approving the settlement of claims of incompetent persons. The district court reviewed one of the largest personal injury settlements in North Carolina history and cut the plaintiff's counsel's fee request by $5.4 million. Counsel appealed arguing that the court lacked the authority to fix a different fee from that contained in its retention agreement or, alternatively, that the court could only do so when the fee was "clearly excessive." Adopting the principles of law advocated by Jones Day, the Court of Appeals affirmed that the district court had the power to review and alter contingent fee agreements using a "reasonableness," rather than "clearly excessive," standard. The Court of Appeals then remanded the case to the district court for further consideration.

In re Abrams & Abrams P.A., Case No. 09-1283