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Michele Lacaillade v. Loignon Champ-Carr

November 14, 2012

MICHELE LACAILLADE, TAYLOR LACAILLADE, AND ANDREW LACAILLADE
v.
LOIGNON CHAMP-CARR, INC.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph A. DiClerico, Jr. United States District Judge

ORDER

Following the death of Jon Paul Lacaillade, his wife and children sued Loignon Champ-Carr, Inc. ("Loignon"), alleging claims for wrongful death. After a six-day trial, the jury found the defendant liable and awarded the plaintiffs damages. Before the court entered judgment, the parties agreed to settle the case. The plaintiffs filed a motion to approve the settlement agreement and a motion for allowance of attorneys' fees because the settlement involved minor children. The defendant assented to both motions.

Background

On August 25, 2008, Jon Paul Lacaillade, a New Hampshire resident, was riding his bicycle on the side of the road traveling east on Route 25 in Porter, Maine. A tractor-trailer, owned and operated by Loignon, and driven by Renald Morin, a Loignon employee, was also traveling east on Route 25. As the truck approached Mr. Lacaillade to pass, he lost control of his bicycle, fell back into the roadway, and landed under the tractor-trailer's tires. He died instantly.

Michele Lacaillade, the decedent's wife, is the duly appointed administratrix of the decedent's estate. She sued on her own behalf and on behalf of the estate alleging a claim for wrongful death. She was joined in the suit by the decedent's two children, his daughter, Taylor, and his son, Andrew. After a six-day trial, the jury found the defendant liable and awarded the plaintiffs $3.5 million in economic damages and $5 million in loss of consortium damages. Under Maine's wrongful death statute, 18-A M.R.S.A. § 2-804, which applied to the case, loss of consortium damages were capped at $500,000.

Discussion

The parties agreed to settle the case and the plaintiffs moved for approval the settlement. See LR 17.1; see also N.H. Super. Ct. R. 111. Because the settlement provided for attorneys' fees of 33 1/3% of the minors' settlement, the plaintiffs also moved for allowance of attorneys' fees. See N.H. Super. Ct. R. 111.E(2).

A. Settlement Agreement

Local Rule 17.1 provides that "[n]o settlement of any suit brought on behalf of a minor by a parent or next friend shall be valid unless approved by the court." LR 17.1. The rule further provides that "[i]f the minor is a New Hampshire resident, the motion shall contain the information required by New Hampshire Superior Court Rule 111." Id.

Superior Court Rule 111 requires a petition for settlement to contain the following information: "if the amount to be paid to the minor before the age of majority exceeds $10,000.00, the Court shall require proof in the form of a certified statement from the Court of Probate that the guardian ad litem, parent, next friend, or other person who receives money on behalf of the minor whether through settlement, judgment, decree or other order, has been appointed guardian of the estate of such minor and is subject to the duties prescribed under RSA 463:19"; "[a] brief description of the accident and of all injuries sustained and the age of the minor"; "[t]he total amount of the settlement and whether any bills or expenses are to be paid out of the total settlement or are being paid in addition as part of the parent's claim"; "[w]hether the settlement was negotiated by counsel actually representing the minor"; "[t]he net amount to be received on behalf of the minor"; and "[a] prayer that the settlement be approved."*fn1 In addition, the petition must be accompanied by a photocopy of the minor's birth certificate and an itemized statement from counsel detailing the nature of the work performed and the time spent on the case.

The plaintiffs' motion to approve the settlement includes the information required by Superior Court Rule 111. The motion attaches certificates of appointment from the Fourth Circuit Probate Division in Laconia dated September 10, 2012, showing that Scott Denison McGuffin was appointed guardian of the estates of Taylor and Andrew and is subject to the duties prescribed under RSA 463:19.*fn2 The motion contains a description of the accident, the total amount of the settlement, the expenses paid out of the settlement, a statement that counsel who negotiated the settlement represented all the plaintiffs, the net amount Taylor and Andrew will receive from the settlement, and a prayer for relief that the settlement agreement be approved. In addition, the motion attached photocopies of Taylor's and Andrew's birth certificates.*fn3

The plaintiffs' motion to approve the settlement complies with Superior Court Rule 111. Accordingly, the court approves the settlement.

B. Attorneys' Fees

Superior Court Rule 111 provides that a ...


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