Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

The Nevada Supreme Court Approves The District Court’s Unilateral Reduction Of The Attorney’s Share In A Proposed Minor’s Settlement

The Nevada Law Blogs has treated the question of Approval of Compromise of Minor’s Claim a few times over the years.  For a little background, see  HERE and HERE.  

The question today is what authority does the Court have when it comes to approving Petitions for Approval of Compromise of Minor’s Claims pursuant to NRS 41.200?  The answer is found in the case of Haley v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court of Nev., 128 Nev. 171, 273 P.3d 855, 2012 Nev. LEXIS 31, 128 Nev. Adv. Rep. 16, 2012 WL 1137127.  It is a sad case.  

A mother died, giving birth to her daughter Ashley.  The father hired an attorney to bring a medical malpractice suit against the doctor.  The Court ordered that a guardian ad litem be appointed for the daughter who was also injured during the delivery.    

The parties reached a settlement for the child in the amount of $238,000.  The proposed settlement distribution was $109,187.26 to the attorney, $20,100 to the guardian ad litem, $79,333.33 to Medicaid, leaving $29,379.41 to be put into the child’s interest bearing trust account.  

When the Petition for Approval of Compromise of Minor’s Claim was presented to the Court, the Court rejected it saying that it didn’t leave enough for the child.  

The attorneys refiled the same proposed apportionment explaining to the Court why the distribution was justified.  The Court unilaterally reapportioned the settlement giving the attorney and the guardian $63,466.67 to split and providing the child $95,200.00 to go into her interest bearing trust account.  Unhappy with the decision, the attorney and the guardian filed a writ to the Nevada Supreme Court.  

The Supreme Court said that NRS 41.200(1) grants the Court broad authority to approve the claim.  The Court pointed to similar authority found in NCRP 17(c) to act as it deems proper for the protection of a minor.  The Court cited several cases the federal counterpart rule, FRCP 17(c), where federal courts court had taken appropriate steps to act to safeguard the interests of minors.  

The court found that NRS 41.200 gives the district court authority to assess the reasonableness of a petition to approve the compromise of a minor’s claim and to ensure that approval of the proposed compromise is in the minor’s best interest. This review necessarily entails the authority to review each portion of the proposed compromise for reasonableness and to adjust the terms of the settlement accordingly, including the fees and costs to be taken from the minor’s recovery

If you have questions about the approval of a minor’s compromise, please contact Mike Mills at 702.240.6060×114 or email him at