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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 22, 2012

Head Comment: CORRECTION on page 15, in the third paragraph, changes the first word of the last sentence from "These" to "There"

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1: John D. Kitch, Nashville, Tennessee; David J. Callahan, III, Nashville, Tennessee, for the Respondent/Appellant, Catherine Dockery.

Attorneys 2: Petitioner/Appellee Jerry Colley, Columbia, Tennessee, Pro Se.

Judge(s): KIRBY

This appeal involves an attorney fee award. The appellee attorney was hired to represent the executor of an estate. After handling the estate, the attorney submitted a fee request to the trial court. The beneficiary of the estate objected, but the trial court awarded the fee amount requested. The beneficiary appeals, arguing that the attorney fee request was so excessive that it should be disallowed entirely under White v. McBride, 937 S.W.2d 796 (Tenn. 1996). In the alternative, if the fee request is not disallowed in its entirety, the beneficiary contends that the trial court erroneously relied on a percentage formula in the local rule, and that the fee should be reduced because the attorney sought fees for work that was either delegated to others or which did not benefit the estate. We hold that the amount of the attorney’s fee request and fee award is excessive. While the case presents a close question as to whether any fee should be allowed, we conclude that the lawyer should not be precluded from receiving any fee, and so modify the fee award to a reasonable amount.