Oto v. National Pacific Ins. Co.,

VA'AI OTO, a minor, by and through
her Guardian ad litem, SIAKI OTO, Plaintiff


GAU'ULA FAIAIPA'U, Defendants.

High Court of American Samoa
Trial Division

CA. No. 86-82

November 26, 1986


Court's statutory responsibility to supervise litigation involving minors imposes a duty on the court to exercise its own best judgment on the fairness of attorney fee arrangements.

In a personal injury action on behalf of a minor, court would not approve a contingency fee larger than one-third of the total amount recovered.

Before REES, Chief Justice, Presiding, AFUOLA, Associate Judge and VAIVAO, Associate Judge.

Counsel: For the Plaintiff, Roger Hazell

Counsel in this case has filed a "motion to cash C.D." which incidentally seeks to the Court's approval for a contingency fee of 40% of the award, plus reimbursement of all expenses borne by the attorney.

The Court has the statutory responsibility to supervise all lawsuits involving minors. This is the first time the contingency fee contract has been presented for the Court's approval, and we feel that a total fee of one-third of the amount recovered is the absolute maximum we can approve.

We do not intend to imply any disapproval of the conduct of the attorney or the guarding in this case. Rather, in approving fees to be paid by minors the Court must exercise its own best judgment, recognizing that reasonable people may disagree on such questions.