Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., No. 7989.

CourtRhode Island Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBAKER, Justice.
Citation200 A. 538
PartiesHIGGINS v. J. B. FARNUM CO.
Docket NumberNo. 7989.
Decision Date09 July 1938
200 A. 538

HIGGINS
v.
J. B. FARNUM CO.

No. 7989.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island.

July 9, 1938.


Exceptions from Superior Court, Providence and Bristol Counties; Alexander L. Churchill, Judge.

Action of assumpsit by John R. Higgins against the J. B. Farnum Company for an attorney's fee. Decision for plaintiff, and defendant brings exceptions.

Case remitted to the superior court for a new trial, unless plaintiff files a remittitur, or entry of judgment for plaintiff, if such remittitur be filed.

William A. Gunning, of Providence, for plaintiff. Kennedy & Greene, of Woonsocket, for defendant.

BAKER, Justice.

&gt

This is an action of assumpsit for an attorney's fee. The case was heard in the superior court by a justice thereof sitting without a jury. He decided for the plaintiff in the sum of $2,180, and thereupon the defendant prosecuted to this court its bill of exceptions containing only an exception to such decision.

The plaintiff is seeking to recover what he alleges to be the fair and reasonable value of his services to the defendant, under the facts and circumstances as disclosed by the evidence. According to his bill of particulars he fixes the value of such services at $2,530. He does not allege or attempt to prove any agreement or understanding between himself and the defendant in regard to the payment for his services. The defendant, on the other hand, contends that on several occasions its president, George W. Carroll, was informed by the plaintiff that his fee, which is now the subject of the present case, would be small, and that the defendant proceeded on that basis with the litigation for which the plaintiff's bill was rendered. The defendant also takes the position that the plaintiff's fee, as allowed by the trial justice, is unreasonable and excessive in view of the services rendered, the amount involved and the resuit

200 A. 539

of the litigation to which the defendant was a party. The plaintiff denies making any statement to George W. Carroll concerning the size of the former's fee.

The trial justice found specifically as a fact that no statement was made to George W. Carroll by the plaintiff that he would charge only a small fee for the work he was engaged in on behalf of the defendant. Such a finding of fact by the trial justice, based on conflicting evidence, will not be disturbed by us unless it is clearly wrong. He has seen and heard the witnesses testify. We have not had that advantage. We have examined the evidence on the matter in question and cannot say that the trial justice was clearly wrong in finding as he did. The only issue remaining for determination, therefore, is whether the decision of the trial justice, that $2,180 represents the reasonable value of the plaintiff's services to the defendant, is supported by the evidence, or is clearly erroneous as the defendant contends.

The plaintiff presented as witnesses in his behalf two attorneys of standing and experience who testified in substance that the bill of $2,530 rendered by the plaintiff to the defendant was reasonable considering the services performed. They testified in some detail as to the propriety of the charges made by the plaintiff for the various types of legal work done by him. An attorney, likewise of standing and experience, testified for the defendant that in his opinion a fair and reasonable lump sum charge for the legal work done by the plaintiff for the defendant would be $600, considering the amount involved and the result obtained. On the basis of the plaintiff's itemized bill, taking into consideration the time spent by the plaintiff and the different kinds of services performed by him for the defendant, this witness placed a figure of $1,130 as reasonable for the plaintiff's services.

The evidence shows that the services, for which the plaintiff rendered the bill in suit, began in October, 1931. They grew out of certain provisions in a lease wherein one John Johnston was lessor and the defendant company was lessee. This lease was to expire December 31, 1931. The plaintiff was employed by William Brown, an officer of the defendant, to represent that company in matters connected with the lease. The lessor, Johnston, was then dead, and the Rhode Island Hospital Trust Company was executor and trustee under his will.

It appears from the evidence that the first two matters handled by the plaintiff for the defendant, following his employment, were not of a serious or complicated character. The first was the filing of a petition in the probate court of Woonsocket praying that the defendant be permitted to file out of time a claim against the Johnston estate. This petition was granted by that court, from which decision the executor of said estate took an appeal to the superior court. This appeal was dismissed after a short hearing in that court and...

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5 practice notes
  • United States v. Gray, Civ. A. No. 4128.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • November 24, 1970
    ...Rubber Co., 102 R.I. 220, 229 A.2d 620 (1967); Lisker v. Monti, 74 R.I. 310, 60 A.2d 485 (1948); Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538 (1938); Page v. Avila, 55 R.I. 52, 177 A. 541 (1935); Gorman v. Banigan, 22 R.I. 22, 46 A. 38 (1900); see also Flynn v. Pearce, 259 A.2d 401 ......
  • Palumbo v. U.S. Rubber Co., No. 3175
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • May 17, 1967
    ...Gorman v. Banigan, 22 R.I. 22, 46 A. 38; Page v. Avila, [102 R.I. 224] 55 R.I. 52, 177 A. 541; Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003; Lisker v. Monti, 74 R.I. 310, 60 A.2d 485. Each of these factors is important, Page 623 but no one is controlling. Lisker v. ......
  • Flynn v. Pearce, No. 643-A
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1969
    ...the testimony of Jessie Mae and, further, that he ignored the rule laid down by this court in Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003. We will consider these contentions It was the thrust of Jessie Mae's testimony that each time plaintiff was engaged, he reques......
  • Trask v. Kam, No. 4058
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • December 3, 1959
    ...was cited in support of defendant's contention in this regard although reference was made to Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003 and Town of Bruce v. Dickey, 116 Ill. 527, 6 N.E. 435, as imposing a duty on an attorney to advise his client of any change of c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • United States v. Gray, Civ. A. No. 4128.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Rhode Island
    • November 24, 1970
    ...Rubber Co., 102 R.I. 220, 229 A.2d 620 (1967); Lisker v. Monti, 74 R.I. 310, 60 A.2d 485 (1948); Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538 (1938); Page v. Avila, 55 R.I. 52, 177 A. 541 (1935); Gorman v. Banigan, 22 R.I. 22, 46 A. 38 (1900); see also Flynn v. Pearce, 259 A.2d 401 ......
  • Palumbo v. U.S. Rubber Co., No. 3175
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Rhode Island
    • May 17, 1967
    ...Gorman v. Banigan, 22 R.I. 22, 46 A. 38; Page v. Avila, [102 R.I. 224] 55 R.I. 52, 177 A. 541; Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003; Lisker v. Monti, 74 R.I. 310, 60 A.2d 485. Each of these factors is important, Page 623 but no one is controlling. Lisker v. ......
  • Flynn v. Pearce, No. 643-A
    • United States
    • Rhode Island Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1969
    ...the testimony of Jessie Mae and, further, that he ignored the rule laid down by this court in Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003. We will consider these contentions It was the thrust of Jessie Mae's testimony that each time plaintiff was engaged, he reques......
  • Trask v. Kam, No. 4058
    • United States
    • Hawaii Supreme Court
    • December 3, 1959
    ...was cited in support of defendant's contention in this regard although reference was made to Higgins v. J. B. Farnum Co., 61 R.I. 262, 200 A. 538, 117 A.L.R. 1003 and Town of Bruce v. Dickey, 116 Ill. 527, 6 N.E. 435, as imposing a duty on an attorney to advise his client of any change of c......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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