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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Settlement talks on Johnson’s counsels’ attorneys’ fees ongoing

The two-day settlement talks on Betty Johnson’s petitions for multi-million-dollar payments for attorneys’ fees and costs could occur starting yesterday before Hawaii chief bankruptcy judge Robert J. Faris.

In an order issued Friday, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood said the counsels of the parties in Johnson’s class action should be prepared to advise the court whether they have reached a resolution of their petitions for attorneys’ fees.

Tydingco-Gatewood disclosed that she held a telephone conference with counsels on Thursday to discuss concerns related to the various petitions for attorneys’ fees and costs.

At the end of the conference, Tydingco-Gatewood said she agreed to vacate the status hearing scheduled for yesterday, Monday, to give the parties more time with their settlement discussions on their claims, with the assistance of Faris.

She said the counsels expected the discussions with Faris to occur yesterday and today, Tuesday.

The judge said she ordered all counsels to appear for a follow up teleconference on Wednesday at 8:15am.

If a settlement is not achieved, Tydingco-Gatewood said the court will order all Johnson counsels to file a single, unified petition for fees, along with a proposed briefing schedule to hear the petition.

“If counsels are unable to reach agreement on a single, unified petition, then counsels for the plaintiff may submit a partially unified petition covering those matters where agreement can be reached, along with a proposed briefing schedule,” she said.

If an agreement cannot be achieved, then the counsels were told to be prepared for a full evidentiary hearing on all matters in dispute.

“All counsel shall appear personally at [the] evidentiary hearing so the court can properly assess credibility in making its determination of a fair and reasonable award of attorneys fees which accurately reflects the contribution by each attorney,” Tydingco-Gatewood said.

The judge tentatively set the evidentiary hearing for Friday, Jan. 31 at 9am.

Johnson has a battery of lawyers—Bruce Jorgensen, Hawaii-based Bronster Hoshibata law firm, Timothy Lord, and Stephen Woodruff.

Jorgensen is demanding at least $18.6 million; Bronster Hoshibata is seeking $17.5 million; Lord is asking for either $3.6 million or $5.9 million; and Woodruff is requesting first for $1.01 million and now $2.9 million.

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