U.S. District Court for the NMI designated judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has ordered the Settlement Fund to pay its trustee, Joyce C.H. Tang, $25,634.25 for professional services and expenses incurred in January and February 2014.
As this developed, Tydingco-Gatewood held a status conference via telephone yesterday about the status of settlement negotiations between the CNMI government and Betty Johnson’s counsels pertaining to their petitions for attorney’s fees and costs. The judge will hold another status conference on May 5, 2014.
In her order for payment of Tang’s invoices, Tydingco-Gatewood said the $25,634.25 represents 90 percent of professional fees and 100 percent of all expenses incurred in January and February 2014.
The judge further ordered the Settlement Fund to hold in trust to the credit of the trustee $2,848, which represents 10 percent of the trustee’s professional fees for this time period.
Tang requested for compensation in the amounts of $16,582.50 and $11,900 in professional services, for a total of $28,482.50, for the months of January and February 2014 respectively.
Tang also asked for compensation in the amounts of $1,263.07 and $461.29 in expenses, for a total of $1,724.36, for January and February 2014 respectively.
Tang’s total request for payments of professional services and expenses is $30,206.86.
In her order, Tydingco-Gatewood said she has reviewed the invoices and finds the request for compensation and reimbursement of expenses to be reasonable.
Tydingco-Gatewood said she is satisfied with the work performed by Tang.
The trustee, the judge noted, worked to finalize contracts for the services of an investment consultant and a software program capable of calculating members’ benefits and auditing members’ accounts.
Tang, she added, continued to work with CNMI government officials to resolve outstanding employer contributions issues, reviewed the status of pending administrative appeals, drafted rules and regulations to govern the procedure for administrative appeals, and drafted her first quarterly report.
Finally, Tydingco-Gatewood said the trustee continued to assist in the Merrill Lynch class action.
Meanwhile, at a status conference yesterday, Tydingco-Gatewood instructed attorney Mitchell F. Thompson, counsel for Johnson’s original lawyer, Bruce Lee Jorgensen, and Johnson’s other counsel, Timothy R. Lord, to work together regarding their petitions for attorney’s fees and costs.
Tydingco-Gatewood placed under advisement the separate petitions filed by Jorgensen and Lord. The CNMI government agreed to settle Jorgensen’s fees for $800,000, subject to court’s approval.
The judge also instructed assistant attorney general Reena Patel to submit the CNMI government’s proposed order regarding Stephen Woodruff’s petition for attorney’s fees and costs that the government settled for $185,000. Woodruff was Johnson’s local counsel.