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Retainer agreement governs attorney fees for responding to turnovers: Kasperek and Martinelli

In re: Kasperek Bk 08-11760 & In re Martinelli Bk 08-11761 (Decision January 15, 2009; Judge Bucki, Buffalo: Two potential asset cases where the trustee (John Ring) requested turnover of documents and assets. The debtors' attorney apparently demanded additional fees from each client before he would represent them in the turnover motion. The attorney did not file a supplemental 2016 statement. The attorney did not appear at the initial turnover motion, and the trustee brought a motion to disgorge. The attorney did appear at the adjourned turnover date and all turnover matters were resolved. Judge Bucki concluded that an attorney may structure his retainer arrangement as he or she sees fit, but is obligated by its terms. In this case, the 2016 statement stated the attorney would "render legal services for all aspects of the bankruptcy case." The judge stated that this certainly would include responding to a turnover motion. The judge ordered to attorney to compensate the trustee $500 for the cost of bringing the turnover motions and the disgorgement motions. Whatever the Rule 2016 statement (and attorney's retainer agreement) says, the court will enforce.

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