NO. 286 Philadelphia 1982, Appeal from the Order in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County Orphans No. 310-73
James A. Lynch, III, Havertown, for appellant.
James Weiner, Philadelphia, for appellee.
Spaeth, President Judge and Brosky and Cirillo, JJ.
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This is an appeal from an order dismissing appellant's exceptions and awarding additional attorneys' fees to
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appellee.*fn1 Appellant is the executrix of the estate of Alma L. Brockerman. Appellee is a law firm that performed services for the Brockerman estate.*fn2 Appellant argues: (1) that the orphans' court erred in not surcharging appellee's attorneys' fees by $6,000, this being the amount of loss allegedly incurred by the Brockerman estate due to the alleged negligence of one of appellee's attorneys; and (2) that the orphans' court erred in awarding additional attorneys' fees without sufficient evidence to support the award. Appellant's first argument is without merit, but we agree with appellant's second argument. We therefore affirm the dismissal of appellant's exceptions but reverse the award of additional attorneys' fees and remand the case to the orphans' court for further proceedings.
Appellant argues that the attorneys' fees awarded to appellee should be surcharged by $6,000 because the negligence
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of one of appellee's attorneys*fn3 caused the estate to suffer a loss in that amount. There are two aspects to this argument: that the attorney was negligent, and that this negligence caused a loss of $6,000 to the Brockerman estate.
With respect to the allegation of negligence, the notes of testimony disclose the following: The Brockerman estate had a claim against Albert C. Jackson, appellant's ex-husband. Alma Brockerman died in February 1971. N.T. 8. Approximately one week later appellant retained one of appellee's attorneys and requested that he attempt to collect any debts that were owed to the Brockerman estate. N.T. 8, 11. The attorney filed a complaint against Mr. Jackson on September 28, 1973, and service was made on October 12, 1973. N.T. 6. An answer was not filed within the 20 day period and a default judgment in the amount of $6,000 was taken on April 15, 1975. N.T. 7, 32. Mr. Jackson had died on January ...