Judge Sets Attorney Fees Hearing

Cincinnati Post [Kentucky]
November 9, 2006

A special judge said he will hold a hearing in December to help him determine how to split up the fees for attorneys who filed a class-action lawsuit against the Diocese of Covington.

Robert McGinnis, who regularly presides in Harrison, Pendleton, Nicholas, and Robertson counties, said he will hear arguments in the case Dec. 7.

Covington attorney Barbara Bonar has said she is entitled to part of the millions of dollars in fees the lawsuit is expected to generate. But Stan Chesley and Robert Steinberg, the lead attorneys in the lawsuit, said she did little work and deserves no payment.

The lawsuit, which alleged a cover-up of 50 years of sexual abuse by priests and others in the diocese, was settled for $84 million. A previous judge in the case ruled attorneys deserve 22 percent of that money as it is paid out.

Both sides have filed what are called summary judgments motions - essentially asking the judge to rule in their favor as a matter of law.

McGinnis may do that, or he may decide he needs to hear evidence before making a determination.

Bonar, one of the original attorneys to file the lawsuit, said she did much of the preliminary work in finding clients and gaining access to records of the diocese. She was later forced out of the case, she said, in a dispute over the way Steinberg and Chesley were handling it.

But Chesley said she did little work and forfeited any right to fees when she left the case over a conflict of interest.


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