Accusing a local trustee of engaging in a "feeding frenzy," an appeals court justice Thursday expressed outrage over a case that has brought widespread attention to excessive fees plundering the estates of elderly and disabled adults.
Private estate manager Thomas Thorpe of Los Gatos charged a brain-injured San
Jose man $108,771 after just 4½ months' work -- and then billed him more than
twice that much in a legal battle to defend his fees.
"What did he contribute to the whole process? For the $100,000, could you
give me one example?" Justice Franklin Elia demanded of Thorpe's attorney, Ellyn
Nesbit. "Give me a $20,000 example!"
At the rate Thorpe and his lawyers were running up bills in 2010, Elia said, there would soon be nothing left of 37-year-old Danny Reed's
$653,000 in life savings.
"Ultimately, it became a feeding frenzy," the justice said.
In their first appearance before the 6th District Court of Appeal, lawyers on
both sides of Reed's case made oral arguments Thursday, but a decision is not
expected for weeks.
Reed's plight was first publicized in this newspaper in July to illustrate
how some Silicon Valley estate managers and their attorneys have charged
extraordinary rates as trustees and conservators appointed by Santa Clara County
Superior Court judges.
After Thorpe submitted his $108,771 bill for a judge's approval, Reed
challenged the fees in court. That led to $261,878 in additional charges for Thorpe and his attorneys to defend the original bill.
Full Article and Source:
San Jose: Appeals Court Justice Accuses Local Estate Trustee of 'Feeding Frenzy'
San Jose:Judge Rejects Nearly $30,000 Attorney Fee to Disabled Man's Trust