The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 3, 1997 · Page 15
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December 3, 1997

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 15

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West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
Page:
Page 15
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THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997 15A Tobacco -case law firms file papers defending contract, fee The state and several lien-filing attorneys have been filing arguments about whether Circuit Judge Harold Cohen should be kept on the case. standing between the state and ourselves," said Michael Maher, a trial attorney from Orlando. The six firms agreed to have their fees set through arbitration as provided under the Aug. 25 settlement agreement. But the state never threw out the contract and the attorneys always planned to present it as one of the things to be considered along with the difficulty of the case, what was won for Florida, the trial lawyers' experience and how the lawsuit affected the attorneys, Maher said. Maher said he and five other lawyers Andy Berly of the Ness, Motley firm in Charleston, S.C.; David Fonvielle of Tallahassee; Richard Scruggs of Pascagou-la, Miss.; and W.C. Gentry and "I thought it reflected the fact that they are really on two pages our page and their own page, he said. "They agree that the judge's order does not affect their fees, except for $2.8 billion. Anything less, they seem to feel, is fair game." The other lawyers' position seems "pretty close" to the view taken by the hen-filers that the lawyers have a valid contract with the state, he said. Meanwhile, the state and several lien-filing attorneys have been filing arguments about whether Cohen should be kept on the case. The last papers due were filed Tuesday, but Rogow has now asked the appellate court to hold oral arguments on the issue. : . . Rogow wrote that Cohen's order also invalidated the contract signed by lawyers who had not filed charging liens. The six law firms that haven't filed liens objected in papers filed with the appellate court Monday. "While hypothetical fees in the amount of $2.8 billion have been declared excessive, the lower court did not declare any other particular potential fee amount to be excessive and the contract has not been rendered unenforceable," the lawyers said. Maher said he couldn't identify what fee would be appropriate because the attorneys have not put everything together for an arbitration panel yet. Rogow found the filing amusing. fees through arbitration. Four attorneys have now appealed that order to the 4th District Court of Appeal, said Bruce Rogow, a Fort Lauderdale attorney who represents three of the lien-filing lawyers. Those three lawyers have asked the appeals court to remove Cohen from all or part of the case on grounds that he failed to give them a hearing and made improper comments. In a request on behalf of attorney Sheldon Schlesinger, Wayne Hogan of Jacksonville filed the papers because they felt a ruling by Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Harold Cohen had been misinterpreted. On Nov. 12, Cohen ruled that the lawyers' contract could not be enforced because an $11 billion state settlement would give the attorneys excessive fees of $2.8 billion. He threw out charging liens filed by five attorneys seeking to be paid under their contract and ordered they seek reasonable ill LEV O I .L.. ... k I . . OF ( FIFE tore (t atJ(TPen at JCPenney Gold Jewelry Gemstones & Cultured Pearls 20-40? Diamonds 3d Sterling Silver & Bridge Jewelry 25 OFF 1 JJ OFF By Stephanie Artero Palm Beach Post Staff Writer WEST PALM BEACH Six law firms that are going along with fee arbitration under Florida's tobacco settlement have nonetheless filed court papers defending their 25 percent contingency fee contract Unlike other lawyers in the case, none of the six firms has filed a lien demanding to be paid under their 1995 contract for representing Florida during its legal battle against cigarette makers. But the law firms are arguing the contract is valid because they intend to use it as a tool in arbitration. "It's not particularly binding in arbitration, but it is evidence of the overall responsibility and under- Carjackers wanted to drive to New York PERRON From 1A Philmore told detectives they didn't want the car owner alive to report it stolen before they could get out of the area, Timmann said. The pair spotted one car and followed it to a home, but the woman driver got out and into her house too quickly, Philmore told detectives. Then, they saw Perron in her gold Lexus at a gas station and followed her as she drove to a friend's house in Palm Beach Gardens. She pulled in the driveway, and Philmore approached her window, asking whether he could go inside and use the phone, Timmann said. She started to roll up her window, and Philmore pulled out his gun, Timmann said. "He pointed it at her head and told her to slide over," Timmann said. Philmore drove the Lexus north on Beeline with Spann following in a blue Subaru, looking for a secluded spot to pull over, Timmann said. ' After Perron was shot, deputies said the two then drove to Indiantown where Philmore robbed the bank , of $1,000 and headed back to West Palm Beach. There they were spotted and chased back north into Martin County where they were captured. Perron's husband, Jean Claude, was embittered by the news Tuesday and said that the couple had frequently discussed violence in America compared with her native Japan. "Every five minutes, something happens. She always would say in Japan the subway was safe," he said softly. "The world is crazy." He said he is "not here to judge" Philmore and Spann. "That's not my job," he said, his voice choking. "I don't know what my job is anymore. What my job was before was to take care of my wife, and I don't have that anymore." Spann, who is facing an unrelated murder charge in Tallahassee, gave one statement to investigators and denied knowing anything about the carjacking or Perron's death. Timmann said Philmore was I not offered any deals, but his coop- eration and his help in hnding tne body could count in his tavor it he is convicted and a judge or jury is considering a penalty. A grand jury will meet Dec. 16. Both men could face first-degree murder charges with a possible death penalty. The two were arrested the day of the carjacking after a four-hour manhunt in an orange grove off Interstate 95 in Hobe Sound. They had run from West Palm Beach police in Perron's Lexus but had to leave the car when it blew a tire. Philmore gave several statements to Martin sheriffs investigator Dennis Fritchie during the weeklong search for Perron's body but initially said he didn't know what happened to her. He said Spann drove away with her and didn't bring her back. On Nov. 21, Philmore told detectives he would lead them to the body, which he did, but still insisted Spann was the triggerman, Timmann said. Two days later, Philmore asked to take a polygraph to prove he was telling the truth. He failed the test and then confessed, Timmann said. B Staff writer Shannon Colavec-chio contributed to this story. How did your college team do? www.GoPBI.com ff& 1 V X JCPenney MM C 1997, J.C. Penney Company, Inc. Regular and original prices art offering prices only. Sates may or may not have been made at regular prices. Sale prices on regular-priced jewelry effective through 122797. Percentages off regurar prices, unless noted. Intermediate markdowns may have been taken on original prices; reductions on original prices effective until stock It depleted. & PUIS I GIFT REGISTRY FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 1-800-JCP-GIFT 1-800-527-4438 Seiko, Citizen, Pulsar & Bulova Watches CM OFF , 0iFF Jewelry photos may be enlarged to show detail. Diamond sale includes only that Jewelry where diamonds constitute the greatest value. 10K and 14K hold in our assortment. Available only at JCPenney stores with Fine Jewelry Departments. Merchandise shown is representative or our assortment. Selection may vary by store. Some merchandise may not be available at every store. If an item Is not available at your nearest JCPenney store, we will gladly order it for you. 4.1. -tf.li Fashion Watches & Jewelry Boxes MAIL Fashion Jewelry Boxed Gifts , JitilfEUtY eilMMGIE 30 - Original Prices of Selected Fine & Fashion Jewelry JCPenney i love your Style AVENTURA MALL, DADE LAND MALL, BROWARD MALL, MIAMI INTERNATIONAL MALL, CORAL SQUARE MALL, PEMBROKE LAKES MALL, PALM BEACH MALL, POMPANO SQUARE MALL, WESTLAND MALL, CUTLER RIDGE MALL, BOYNTON BEACH MALL, OMNI INTERNATIONAL MALL JCPENNEY HOME STORES: KENDALL MALL, MIAMI TOWER SHOPS, DAVIE

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