United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Bridgette Trice, as trustee for the heirs and next of kin of Devyn Bolton, deceased, Plaintiffs,
Toyota Motor Corporation, et al., Defendants.
Ray Adams, Plaintiff, Toyota Motor Corporation,, Defendants.
W.B. Markovits, Esq., Christopher D. Stock, Esq., and Louise
M. Roselle, Esq., Markovits, Stock & DeMarco, LLC,
Cincinnati, OH, on behalf of Plaintiffs Bridgette Trice and
Quincy Ray Adams.
L. Van Dyck, Esq., Van Dyck Law Firm, PLLC, Minneapolis, MN,
and Michael B. Padden, Esq., Padden Law Firm, PLLC, Lake
Elmo, MN, on behalf of Padden Law Firm, PLLC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Padden Law Firm, PLLC's (the “Padden
Firm”) Motion for Release of Funds [Trice Docket No.
865; Adams Docket No. 587] and Motion for Additional Findings per
Rule 52(b) and for Altered Judgment per Rule 59(e) [Trice
Docket No. 876; Quincy Adams Docket No. 582]. For the reasons
set forth below, both motions are denied.
Motion for Additional Findings and Altered Judgment
April 27, 2018, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order (“Order”) [Trice Docket No. 860; Adams
Docket No. 575] authorizing distribution of the contingency
fee earned by law firms representing Plaintiffs in these
companion cases. The Order allocates 15% of the contingency
fee to the Padden Firm and 30% to the Law Office of Kenneth
R. White, P.C. (the “White Firm”). Judgment was
entered pursuant to the Order on April 30, 2018. See
Judgment [Trice Docket No. 862; Adams Docket No. 577].
Padden Firm moves for additional findings of fact and an
amended judgment, arguing the fee allocation is erroneous.
The Padden Firm contends that it is entitled to 30% of the
contingency fee according to an April 2014 Fee Agreement
among Plaintiffs and their attorneys. See Padden
Decl. [Trice Docket No. 737] Ex. 12 (April 2014 Fee
Agreement). The Padden Firm argues that the Court misapplied
controlling Minnesota law when it declined to enforce the
April 2014 Fee Agreement and instead divided fees in
proportion to the amount of work each firm performed.
Rule 52 motion is intended to correct findings of fact which
are central to the ultimate decision.” Dale &
Selby Superette & Deli v. U.S. Dep't of Agric.,
838 F.Supp. 1346, 1347 (D. Minn. 1993) (internal quotation
marks omitted). “Rule 59(e) motions serve a limited
function of correcting manifest errors of law or fact or to
present newly discovered evidence. Such motions cannot be
used to introduce new evidence, tender new legal theories, or
raise arguments which could have been offered or raised prior
to entry of judgment.” Innovative Home Health Care,
Inc. v. P.T.-O.T. Assocs. of the Black Hills, 141 F.3d
1284, 1286 (8th Cir. 1998) (internal citations omitted).
“[A] motion made pursuant to Rules 52 and 59 is not
intended to routinely give litigants a second bite at the
apple, but to afford an opportunity for relief in
extraordinary circumstances.” Dale & Selby
Superette, 838 F.Supp. at 1348.
Padden Law Firm argues that the standard governing the
division of fees among different law firms-Minnesota Rule of
Professional Conduct 1.5(e)-provides two alternatives for
dividing fees, and that the Court erred by addressing only
one of the alternatives. Rule 1.5(e) states:
A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same
firm may be made only if:
(1) the division is in proportion to the services performed
by each lawyer or each lawyer assumes joint responsibility
for the representation;
(2) the client agrees to the arrangement, including the share
each lawyer will receive, and the agreement is ...