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Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Co. v. Roan

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT


January 11, 1980

CONTINENTAL ILLINOIS NATIONAL BANK AND TRUST COMPANY OF CHICAGO, AS SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE OF THE JAY MORSE ELY, JR., TRUST, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
FRANK J. ROAN, GUARDIAN AD LITEM HEREIN FOR W. JOHN MATTHIAS, A MINOR, ET AL., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division No. 74-C-1730 JOHN F. GRADY, Judge.

Before Hon. THOMAS E. FAIRCHILD, Chief Judge, Hon. FRANCIS L. VAN DUSEN, Senior Circuit Judge,*fn* Hon. WILLIAM J. BAUER, Circuit Judge.

Order

This appeal challenges a July 30, 1979 district court order awarding Frank J. Roan attorney's fees of $2,500.00 for his services as guardian ad litem and trustee in defense of an interpleader action. Appellant Roan seeks a reversal of that order and an award of fees in the amount of $11,715.60, the sum he originally requested from the district court.

Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago filed an interpleader action on June 24, 1974, to determine the person or entities entitled to the corpus of the Grannis Trust. Named as defendants in the interpleader action were Roland L. Kemp, Executor of the estate of Jay Morse Ely, the beneficiary under the Grannis Trust; The First National Bank of Chicago, Trustee of the Family Trusts established under Ely's divorce settlement to receive the proceeds from the Grannis Trust; and various immediate and ultimate beneficiaries of the Family Trusts. Roan was appointed guardian ad litem for the minor beneficiaries and trustee for the unborn and unascertained descendant beneficiaries. Since this fee allowance comes out of the Trust Fund, the appeal is defended by the First National. A counterclaim filed by Roan against Continental is the subject of a separate appeal, No. 79-1447.

First National had a fiduciary duty to all the beneficiaries for whom Roan acted. All the defendants had identical interests, except for Kemp. All but Kemp sought to have the assets of the Grannis Trust transferred to the Family Trusts. Kemp might have sought to set aside the divorce settlement agreement which required the transfer of the trust funds. Upon Kemp's default, there was no dispute about the result of the interpleader.

It is undisputed that Roan was bound to represent the contingent beneficiaries in this action and was therefore entitled to receive reasonable compensation. The appellant correctly cites Carlberg v. State Savings Bank & Trust Company, 143 N.E. 441, 444, 312 Ill. 181, 189-90 (1924), for the rule that the awarding of fees to a guardian ad litem and trustee is within the sound discretion of the court. Reasonable compensation is determined by various factors, including the following: (1) the skill of the attorney; (2) the difficulty of the question involved; (3) the importance of the outcome; (4) the degree of the attorney's responsibility in the case; (5) the amount of time required; (6) the customary fees in the community; and (7) the benefit to the clients. Laff v. Chapman Performance Prods., Inc., 63 Ill. App.3d 297, 307 (1978); Neville v. Davinroy, 41 Ill. App.3d 706, 711, 366 N.E.2d 86, 90 (1976); 76 Am. Jur.2d Trusts ยง 660 (1975).

Although the district court's discussion of the factors which led to its determination of fees was brief, the court did indicate the criteria for its order. It found that there was no serious issue in the interpleader once Kemp defaulted and that some of the petitions sought payment for an inordinate number of hours of work given the lack of complexity of issues involved. Apparently referring to Roan and perhaps other attorneys, it found that "there was... far too much time spent by attorneys in legal research and in conferences with each other." The district court apparently found that the major work performed in defending the interpleader action was provided by the attorneys for First National, rather than by Roan or the other attorneys involved.*fn1

These findings of the district court indicate that it used the appropriate criteria in determining the fee to be awarded to Roan. We find no abuse of discretion by the district court.

Accordingly, the decision of the district court is AFFIRMED.


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