Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Master to estate:
Pay most legal bills

About 77 percent of Jervis'
and Stender's fees is found
reasonable and necessary

By Rick Daysog


The Bishop Estate may have to reimburse former trustees Oswald Stender and Gerard Jervis for most of their $2.2 million legal bills, according to findings by a special court-appointed master.

Local attorney Robert Richards, who was appointed by Probate Judge Kevin Chang to review the Bishop Estate's legal fees, found that $1.7 million of the $2.2 million in fees was both reasonable and necessary.

Stender and Jervis previously asked the estate to reimburse them for legal fees they incurred in their successful suit to oust fellow trustee Lokelani Lindsey.

Judge Chang last month ruled that Stender and Jervis were entitled to "reasonable" attorneys fees and costs but appointed Richards to determine the amount.

Richards' report, filed in state Circuit Court yesterday, noted that the attorneys involved in the case billed reasonable rates, but said there were some duplications and inefficiencies.

For instance, Richards recommended that the court disallow $217,830 of legal fees billed by one of Stender's law firms, Watanabe Ing & Kawashima. Watanabe Ing had asked the court for legal fees and expenses of $765,235.36.

Richards said the Bays Deaver Hiatt Lung & Rose law firm, which also represented Stender, incurred reasonable and necessary fees of $796,632.92. The firm had been asking for legal fees of about $1.1 million.

All but $57,179 of Jervis' $364,816 legal fees were reasonable, Richards added.

The law firms had no immediate comment but have until Friday to respond to Richards' findings, the first of several involving Bishop Estate's legal work.

Judge Chang had asked Richards to examine whether the former Bishop Estate trustees improperly hired outside attorneys with estate money to represent their personal interests.

Critics have alleged that the former majority trustees of the estate -- Lindsey, Henry Peters and Richard "Dickie" Wong -- used the estate's former outside lawyers and consultants to defend their personal interests.

Since appointing Richards special master, Judge Chang ordered the temporary removal of Wong and Peters after the Internal Revenue Service threatened to revoke the estate's tax-exempt status.

Chang also accepted the resignations of Jervis and Stender.

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