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Trustee says lawyer took 56% of estate

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, May 14, 2009) – The trustee in charge of Junior Larry Hillbroom's multimillion-dollar trust has accused local attorney David Lujan and California attorney Barry Israel of forcing him to sign a document increasing their attorney fees and to hide the additional costs from Hillbroom -- "a young beneficiary who remained unaware of the extent of his newly acquired wealth."

Lujan and Israel allegedly received $38 million in legal fees, while Hillbroom received $12 million from the settlement of his father's estate, according to a complaint filed by trustee Keith Waibel this week in the Los Angeles U.S. District Court.

Hillbroom, the son of deceased DHL co-founder Larry Hillblom, in February sued Waibel, Lujan and Israel in the Los Angeles federal court, accusing them of taking too much money from his $90 million estate settlement.

They allegedly changed their fee agreement, from 38 percent to 56 percent, without his knowledge, the complaint by Hillbroom states. The case recently was assigned to District Judge Otis D. Wright II.

According to the complaint filed this week by Waibel, Lujan and Israel had complete discretion to fire Waibel and allegedly "used this authority to influence Waibel to act in their personal interests."

According to Waibel's complaint, Lujan and Israel "demanded" that Waibel raise the amount of their contingency fees from 38 percent to 56 percent, and that the trust pay additional costs for legal services already provided under an earlier retainer agreement.

According to Waibel's complaint, the alleged demands by Lujan and Israel were made after Hillbroom's share of the estate already had been established and "no additional legal work remained to be done by Lujan or Israel."

Fee increase

Waibel's complaint alleges that Waibel was forced to sign a new retainer agreement in 1999, increasing the fees.

According to the complaint, "Lujan and Israel also required that these additional payments be concealed from Junior."

Lujan yesterday did not return a call for comment.

Lujan, in a civil suit filed this week in the Superior Court of Guam, accused Waibel of mismanaging the Hillbroom trust, including making bad investments, and of attempting to blame Lujan for the poor state of the trust.

Waibel, in his complaint this week, said he is not liable for the conduct and damages alleged in Hillbroom's lawsuit, and that Lujan and Israel are "primarily liable for such damage and were active participants in causing such damage." The complaint states Waibel did not benefit financially from his "unwilling assistance" to Lujan and Israel.

Full-time job

Waibel's complaint states that Waibel's job with the trust was his full-time occupation, and that being removed from the position would have jeopardized his livelihood.

"Lujan and Israel recognized Waibel's predicament and used it to their full advantage," the complaint states.

The complaint also states that, if Waibel had been terminated, it would have "eliminated his ability to protect Junior's interests in any capacity."

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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