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Attorney fees affirmed in adult guardianship dispute

November 8, 2017

The Indiana Court of Appeals on Wednesday affirmed an award of attorney fees in a guardianship dispute that involved expert witnesses who testified as to the testamentary capacity of a man diagnosed with dementia.

A dispute arose over the care of lifelong farmer and businessman Darvin Lamey, who was 87 in 2014 when his son Raymond petitioned for temporary guardianship, concerned that Darvin could no longer make informed decisions about his health. A guardian ad litem also was appointed.

Some time later, the law firm of Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders, LLP, et al., became aware Darvin was seeking counsel to terminate the guardianship over him and his estate. After proceedings and a hearing, parties concluded German American Bank would be appointed guardian.

The trial court ordered the bank to pay the law firm attorney fees of more than $100,000 and associated fees for expert witnesses and other claims from ZSWS and and Kolb Roellgen & Kichoff, LLP.

The Court of Appeals affirmed those awards in Guardianship: Ray Lamey M.D., et al. v. Ziemer, Stayman, Weitzel & Shoulders, LLP, et al., 26A01-1703-GU-588.

 “We hold that while Appellants have standing to pursue this interlocutory appeal of right, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting ZSWS’s and Kolb’s fee petitions and in ordering the payment of the expert witness fees,” Judge Patricia Riley concluded for the panel. “We deny ZSWS’s and Kolb’s request for appellate attorney fees.”

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