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Neylon v. Ford Motor Co.

Decided: October 14, 1953.

EDWARD L. NEYLON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT



Eastwood, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Jayne, J.A.D.

Jayne

"Large streams from little fountains flow,

Tall oaks from little acorns grow." [Everett (1791)]

In 1949 the petitioner, Edward L. Neylon, achieved an award in the Division of Workmen's Compensation of $296.43. The sequential litigation concerning the legal propriety of the award became exceedingly notable. Its path is marked by the decisions reported in 13 N.J. Super. 56 (App. Div. 1951), 8 N.J. 586 (1952), and 10 N.J. 325 (1952). It will be recalled that by reason of an equal division of opinion among the justices of the Supreme Court, the judgment of the Appellate Division of this court affirming the award remains undisturbed.

It is immediately obvious that without the aid of competent counsel in this lengthy and expensive contest with the Ford Motor Company the petitioner would have been as helpless as a turtle on its back.

The Ford Motor Company, as is its undoubted right, continues to be disputatious. Rule 5:2-5, now R.R. 5:2-5(f), empowers the County Court to "allow a reasonable attorney's

fee to the prevailing party on appeal from an order or determination of the division of workmen's compensation for his services in the county court, the Appellate Division of the Superior Court, and the Supreme Court."

Upon notice and after hearing the arguments of counsel and according the subject mature consideration, Judge Kalteissen of the Middlesex County Court granted to counsel of the petitioner fees aggregating the sum of $2,850. The Ford Company by means of the present appeal impugns the allowance as unreasonably exorbitant.

The reasons assigned to support the attack seem to jostle each other. Essentially the first insistence is that the allowance does not have a mathematically proportionate relationship to the compensation award of $296.43. Under this point it appears to be conceded on behalf of the Ford Company that counsel for the petitioner would be justly entitled to a fee equivalent to a percentage of the $296.43. Perhaps it is supposed that for the rendition of professional services beyond that modest figure counsel for the petitioner should be gratified by the cozy warmth of the applause flowing from their victory.

Secondly, it is proposed by the present appellant that the allowance should be measured by the amount the petitioner would have in his situation deemed discreet to invest in resisting the successive appeals of the company. Such a speculative investment by the petitioner we apprehend might have been symbolized by a cipher.

Next it is advocated that -- well, let us quote from the appellant's brief:

"However, assuming that Edward L. Neylon was free to employ Mr. Weiss to prepare and file a petition for rehearing, in view of the fact that Edward L. Neylon never could have recovered more than the sum of $296.43, it is certain that he would not have agreed to ...


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