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Aldrich v. Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc.

Supreme Court, New York

July 15, 2005

GEORGE ALDRICH, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
MARSH & McLENNAN COMPANIES, INC., MARSH, INC., GUY CARPENTER & CO., INC., C.T. BOWRING & CO. LIMITED and SEDGWICK GROUP, PLC, Defendants 605336/99

Unpublished Opinion

Herman Calm, J.

Names Legal Committee, Inc., moves (seq. no. 009) to intervene in a related attorneys' fee proceeding, and to compel the production of certain documents relevant thereto, CPLR 1012 (a) (2), 3124; or, alternatively, to stay the proceeding and compel arbitration of the issues raised therein, id., 7503 (a).

The facts underlying this action are set forth in prior decisions of the court. Familiarity therewith is presumed. The following summarizes the facts pertinent to this motion.

Facts:

This action alleges causes of action against insurance brokers Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc, and subsidiaries, for fraud and negligent misrepresentation in connection with certain Lloyd's of London reinsurance policies. Names Legal Committee, Inc. ("NLC"), is chaired by Elizabeth Lucssenhop, who submits an affidavit stating that it organized the plaintiff group as a constituency of Lloyd's of London "Names," i.e., underwriters, allegedly harmed by defendants' actions. Neither NLC or Luesscnhop are parties to this action.

Plaintiffs were initially represented by Levi, Lubarsky & Feigenbaum, LLP, which was granted leave to withdraw in May 2000. Thereafter, plaintiffs retained Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, LLP. Gibson Dunn appeared on plaintiffs behalf filing an amended complaint and, as it asserts, interviewed witnesses, reviewed documents, developed litigation strategy, opposed a motion to dismiss, conducted discovery, represented plaintiffs at evidentiary proceedings, and prepared written submissions. NLC, however, ceased paying the firm's bills as of September 2001. As of the close of 2002, the outstanding balance was $1,150,000.00 (Gregory Aff. [12/30/02'| ¶ 3).

In response to a letter from Gibson Dunn requesting payment of its fees, Luessenhop wrote the firm's executive director on November 22, 2002, stating:

We are deeply grateful for the excellent representation from Fred Gregory[1] and everyone at your firm, who worked so successfully to advance our case. We arc painfully aware that we have not done our part by not paying your bills as they came due.

(Akkapeddi Aff. Ex. G.) She repeated that acknowledgment in a letter to Gregory, dated December 3, 2002, by stating: "I will be most happy to send money to you as soon as it is received in Washington. You have won everything for us to date." (Id.)

Due to continued non-payment of its fees, Gibson Dunn moved for leave to withdraw as plaintiffs' counsel. The court granted that motion by order dated January 28, 2003. The order severed the issue of Gibson Dunn's reasonable attorneys' fees herein, referring it to a Special Referee to hear and report.

A hearing commenced before Special Referee Nicholas Doyle on October 22, 2003. The only parties who appeared were Gibson Dunn, by Fred F. Gregory, Esq., and Richard J. Davis, Esq., and two plaintiffs, Edith Anthoine and Thomas W. Tilsley, through their counsel, Alison Anthoine, Esq. Said counsel informed Referee Doyle that Luessenhop advised her before the hearing that she did not plan to attend. The hearing continued until conclusion.

Almost a full year after Gibson Dunn's withdrawal in January 2003, and three months after the conclusion of the Referee's Hearing in October 2003, NLC presently moves to "intervene" in the hearing; or, more accurately, to reopen it. Along with such relief, NLC seeks an order compelling the production of certain documents preparatory to its participation in a reopened hearing; ...


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