Earlier this year, I reported on the controversy swirling around 104 year old socialite Brooke Astor whose guardianship case has generated legal fees and expenses of about three million dollars according to an article in the December 5th New York Times. The case settled on October 13, shortly before it was slated to go to trial and then the fee applications began to roll in. Oh Boy did they roll in!
Hard to imagine how the plight of this poor woman could have required the services of 56 lawyers, 65 legal assistants, 6 accountants, 5 bankers, 6 doctors, 2 public relations firms and a law school professor (how amazing that there was no partridge in a pear tree) in order to sort things out. I guess that when someone is worth one hundred twenty million dollars, this must go with the territory but there oughta be limits, no?
Evidently Supreme Court Justice John E.H. Stackhouse thought things were a bit excessive as well. He managed to pair down the fee requests to about 2.2 million dollars, noting that the original figure was "staggering".
In a separate story relating to the case, Justice Stackhouse made the legal observation that the court evaluator had concluded that the allegations of intentional elder abuse were not "substantiated" This comment has set off a small firestorm with Mrs. Astor’s son Anthony Marshall claiming that the decision has vindicated him while petitioner Philip Marshall has asserted through counsel that the court’s assessment of proof in no way established that his grandmother had been properly cared for by her son.
The terms of the settlement entered into in October provide that Anthony Marshall would no longer serve as his mother’s guardian. Annette de la Renta, who has been a friend of Mrs. Astor for more than forty years, now shares the duties of guardian with J.P. Morgan Chase.