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GEDDES v. CESSNA AIRCRAFT CO.

April 3, 1995

LETICIA G. GEDDES and BARNABAS B. BREED, as executor of the Estate of WARREN H. GEDDES, deceased, Plaintiffs, against THE CESSNA AIRCRAFT COMPANY, Defendant.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. SIMON CHREIN

 On January 9, 1995 I received the first draft of the "Order of Compromise" submitted by the plaintiffs in this case. By order dated January 12, 1995 I directed the parties to address a number of issues that concerned me regarding the proposed "Order of Compromise". I received a revised "Order of Compromise" from plaintiffs' attorney; Daniel Donnelly, Esq., dated February 21, 1995. After a careful review of the submissions, I am satisfied that the counsel fees are within the normal range for a case of this complexity, but the court is concerned with the proposed distribution of the settlement and has determined to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the infants' interests.

 BACKGROUND:

 Proposed Distribution of the Settlement:

 The order of compromise dated February 21, 1995 proposed that the $ 1,800,000.00 settlement *fn1" be distributed as follows:

 
$ 73,990.70 to ITT Hartford in satisfaction of its lien pursuant to § 29 of the New York Workers Compensation Law. The plaintiffs accept this in full discharge of its lien. The percent of each family member's share has been multiplied by the amount of the lien to determine the amount that each member will pay towards satisfaction of the lien. Thus, Leticia Geddes pays 66% ($ 48,833.86) of the lien, James pays 7% ($ 5.179.35). Philip pays 13% ($ 9,618.79) and William pays 14% ($ 10,358.70) of the lien.
 
$ 633,009.39 in attorney fees to Daniel Donnelly, Esq., as compensation for legal services rendered in this action to the plaintiffs, inclusive of costs and distributions paid by him and to be paid to him.
 
$ 753,056.75 to Leticia Geddes, representing the widow's pecuniary loss, including reimbursement of $ 101,890.61 for litigation expenses.
 
$ 66,855.65 to James Geddes, representing his pecuniary loss as Warren H. Geddes' 20 year old son.
 
$ 130.360.21 to Philip Geddes, representing his pecuniary loss as Warren H. Geddes' 13 year old son.
 
$ 142,727.30 to William Geddes, representing his pecuniary loss as Warren H. Geddes' 12 year old son. *fn2"

 This distribution results in a departure from In re Kaiser's Estate, 198 Misc. 582, 100 N.Y.S.2d 218 (Sur. Ct. Kings Cty. 1950), which is generally used by New York courts to allocate wrongful death proceeds. See Joseph and Robert S. Kelner, 'Kaiser' Revisited: Allocation of Wrongful Death Proceeds, 212 N.Y.L.J. 3 (November 29, 1994). The court is concerned with two aspects of the proposed compromise order: the proposed distribution of ...


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