The trial court abused its discretion in allocating all of a wrongful death settlement to the deceased husband’s minor children and then reducing the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ contingency fee to 10% of the minor children’s recovery. The widow was an experienced businesswoman who was assisted by corporate counsel in negotiating a contingency fee agreement with the plaintiffs’ attorneys and she agreed to a 31% contingency fee. The case was risky and complex. The agreed contingency percentage was well within the normal range. The lawyers had achieved a good result. While the fact that the minor children were disabled and needed extra care could properly be taken into account, the trial court should not have given that one-factor controlling weight while disregarding the remaining factors a trial court is supposed to consider under Cal. Rules of Court, rule 7.995 in approving a minor’s compromise.
California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 1 (Rothschild, P.J.); September 5, 2018 (published October 2, 2018); 27 Cal. App. 5th 1167