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04/27/88 In Re Estate of Lawrence Kutchins

April 27, 1988



(Jenner & Block, Petitioner-Appellant, v.

La Salle National Bank, Respondent-Appellee)

523 N.E.2d 1025, 169 Ill. App. 3d 641, 120 Ill. Dec. 114 1988.IL.608

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Richard E. Dowdle, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RIZZI delivered the opinion of the court. WHITE, P.J., and McNAMARA, J., concur.


Plaintiff, Jenner & Block (Jenner), appeals from an award of attorney fees and costs received as a result of Jenner's representation of Lawrence Kutchins (Kutchins), a disabled person. Jenner contends that the trial court erred in denying it the entire amount of the attorney fees that it requested for services provided by Jenner. Jenner maintains that the award of attorney fees does not properly take into account that Jenner (1) represented Kutchins on the appeal from the trial court's order approving the sale of Kutchins' shares of stock in New Process Baking Company (New Process); (2) attempted to reach a settlement with Kutchins' family regarding its objection to Kutchins' restoration, the sale of Kutchins' shares of stock and other family disputes; and (3) performed a substantial amount of work that was directly related to Kutchins' restoration. Jenner also maintains that the court erred in not rendering an explanation of its order granting Jenner attorney fees and costs. We affirm.

On February 23, 1983, Kutchins was adjudicated a disabled person by the circuit court of Cook County. On June 7, 1983, American National Bank and Trust Company resigned as appointed plenary guardian, and La Salle National Bank (La Salle) was appointed successor plenary guardian. La Salle, in its capacity as guardian, decided that it would be in the best interest of Kutchins to sell his shares of stock in New Process. Thus, on February 3, 1984, La Salle filed a petition requesting permission from the court to sell the stock. La Salle presented evidence informing the court that Heileman Brewing Company had offered to buy the stock of New Process for $13 million provided that the sale include the stock of Kutchins' brother, Edmund Kutchins. La Salle later informed the court that Kutchins was opposed to any sale of his stock. La Salle suggested that because Kutchins was represented by counsel, he be given the opportunity to present his position in opposition to the sale.

Kutchins obtained legal representation in March of 1984. However, Kutchins did not contact Jenner for representation until July 30, 1984. At that time, Kutchins requested that Jenner represent him to prevent the sale of his shares of stock and to obtain his restoration.

On August 7, 1984, Kutchins' previous counsel moved to withdraw, and Jenner filed its appearance. Jenner also presented a petition to (1) terminate the adjudication of Kutchins' disability; (2) revoke La Salle's letters of guardianship; and (3) have its attorney fees and costs paid out of Kutchins' estate. Although not in its petition, Jenner asked the court to delay any ruling on the sale of Kutchins' New Process stock pending a decision on the restoration petition. It was Jenner's contention that Kutchins' restoration would render moot the issue of the stock sale. The trial court set August 16, 1984, as the date for a final hearing.

At the August 16 hearing, Jenner argued in favor of restoration of Kutchins. Jenner also argued in opposition to the sale of stock. Jenner made an offer of proof that if Kutchins' psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Wolpert, were allowed to testify, he would state that Kutchins has the capacity to manage both his property and his personal affairs. Following argument of counsel, the court approved the sale of Kutchins' New Process stock to Heileman.

Jenner then filed a motion for a stay, without bond, pending appeal. Jenner argued that if the court did not grant a stay of its order, Kutchins would lose his opportunity to contest the sale of his stock, because the sale might become final before restoration would be granted. Jenner's motion was denied. A hearing on Kutchins' restoration petition was set for October 2, 1984.

Thereafter, Jenner, without permission from the trial court or La Salle, immediately filed its notice of appeal from the court's order granting the sale of the stock. Upon an emergency motion, the appellate court entered an order staying the sale pending Kutchins' restoration hearing. After the stay was granted, Jenner filed a jury demand and a change of venue motion in Kutchins' restoration proceeding. Judge Dowdle granted the change of venue motion and the case was reassigned to Judge Michael F. Czaja. Kutchins' wife, Adeline, moved to strike the ...

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