Susan J. Arthur & Ralph Arthur & Yoshiko Arthur v. N. Laurence Willey, Jr., Esq.

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Disposition: Award to Respondent

Issued by: Fee Arbitration Commission

Docket #: FAC# 19-342

Dated: March 2, 2021

Bar Number: 000808


Pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7(f)(2), the Fee Arbitration Commission has amended its Order to correct clerical errors as follows:

1. Corrected the caption to accurately reflect all the parties to the petition
2. Clarify that Ralph Arthur and Yoshiko Arthur were added as co-Petitioners in this matter on October 11, 2019, and that the Fee Arbitration Commission regards them as so.

On December 8, 2020 and January 19, 2021, the Board of Overseers’ Fee Arbitration Commission conducted hearings in the above–captioned matter, having convened the hearing on the December date, and concluded the hearing on the January date. The dispute concerned fee issues detailed within Petitioners’ fee Petition. The members of the Commission were Chair Carrie Folsom, Esq.; Kenda Scheele, Esq.; and public member Sandra Hodge. The December hearing was telephonic, and the January hearing was via Zoom teleconferencing. Susan Arthur, Ralph Arthur, and Yoshiko Arthur were present at the December 8, 2020 hearing and testified and called witnesses. Susan Arthur participated on behalf of all the Petitioners in the January 19, 2021 hearing date. The Respondent was also present at both sessions, testified, and called witnesses. Based upon the evidence admitted, the Commission finds as follows:

There was a written fee agreement between the parties. The bill for Respondent’s services was $60,001.38, and Petitioners have already paid $14,491.72, therefore leaving a balance due of $45,509.66. The Panel finds that, based upon the reasonableness of the fees and the written fee agreement that was undertaken between the parties, that the total reasonable fee is $37,246.55, calculated as Petitioners already-paid $14,491.72, plus one-half of the outstanding balance, which is $22,754.83, for a net total due from Petitioners to Respondent of $22,754.83, which will constitute full and final payment for services.

Assessing the findings in conjunction with the factors set forth in Rule 1.5 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, the Panel finds that there was a written fee agreement, but that it was ambiguous, and therefore only a portion of Respondent’s fees/expenses are due from Petitioners, and the amounts deemed due are reasonable under the circumstance, and shall be as aforesaid.

Pursuant to Maine Bar Rule 7(h), in order to preserve the confidentiality of the written materials and the testimony admitted at the hearing, the Commission has not enumerated its findings of fact and conclusions within this Award and Determination. The Award and Determination is accompanied, however, by a separate supplemental document which sets forth the findings of facts and conclusions of the Commission. By ruling of the Chair, the attached supplemental document shall not be considered part of the award, which is a public document. In accordance with Maine Bar Rule 7(h), the supplemental document shall be confidential and shall not be open to the public or disclosed to any person except as otherwise set forth in Maine Bar Rule 7(h).

This Award and Determination is in full settlement of all claims submitted to the Fee Arbitration Commission.

The undersigned have subscribed to this award on March 2, 2021.

Carrie Folsom, Esq.
Chair, Panel 2
Fee Arbitration Commission