Even if a debtor does not obtain a discharge in bankruptcy, a Bankruptcy Court may award attorneys' fees to the debtor's attorney, based on Connecticut law and a retainer agreement. In March 2011, the debtor, Richard Buglione, hired Attorney George Holler to represent him in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy and to file objections to scheduled and unscheduled proofs of claim, in exchange for attorneys' fees of $3,500. Buglione paid a $1,500 retainer fee. Allegedly, Buglione had counted on financial assistance during his Chapter 13 case from a relative who lost his job and a fiancée who became unhappy and left him. (Buglione eventually reconciled with his fiancée, and his relative found another job.) Although Attorney Holler allegedly had informed Buglione that he would be required to pay his mortgage, mortgage checks were returned as a result of insufficient funds. Buglione allegedly was in a motor-vehicle collision and was unable to work. In return for an additional fee, Attorney Holler offered to handle his objections to mortgagees' claims. In February 2012, the Bankruptcy Court dismissed the debtor's Chapter 13 case and kept jurisdiction over Attorney Holler's request for an attorney's fee in the amount of $7,920. Attorney Holler argued that his legal services were necessary and beneficial to the debtor. The bankruptcy trustee objected that reduced fees were in order for an unsuccessful Chapter 13 case, especially since the Bankruptcy Court did not rule on the objection that generated most of the attorneys' fees. Attorney Holler conceded that the retainer agreement stated that the "base fee" included filing objections to proofs of claim, and that he did not adequately explain to his client that this only extended to ordinary objections to proofs of claim that require no more than 30 to 60 minutes. Considering Connecticut law and Attorney Holler's concession, the Bankruptcy Court awarded the debtor $3,500 in attorneys' fees. George Holler represented the debtor, and Patrick Crook served as the attorney for the Chapter 13 trustee.

VIEW FULL CASE