ESTATE OF JOAN GARRIGAN, Deceased
ESTATE OF JOAN GARRIGAN, Deceased (2010-529/F) — In this ongoing family dispute, Decedent's four children, who share equally in this estate, continue their endless litigation in this Court. Currently before the Court is a motion to fix counsel fees.
The Petitioner, Lainie Fastman, Esq., submitted an application in accordance with SCPA 2110 to have her fees fixed. She had previously represented Susan McMahon, the Preliminary Executrix, who has since resigned as such. Joann Chelsen and Kathleen Garrigan oppose her application, and in doing so have used what Petitioner claims are "prejudicial and irrelevant" statements that have no bearing on the 2110 application. The Petitioner has therefore submitted a motion to strike the Objectants' answer. Oral arguments were heard by the Court, at the conclusion of which decision was reserved. The Petitioner's papers request the Objectants' answer be denied in its entirety because of two particular statements contained therein. During oral argument, however, Petitioner requested only that those prejudicial statements be stricken from the answer. This Court will not deny the papers in their entirety, but will decide whether or not the statements were appropriate within the purview of CPLR 3024 b and applicable case law. The statements in question are found in paragraph 11 and paragraph 26 of the Objectant's answer to the Petitioner's 2110 application and relate to Ms. Fastman's behavior.
CPLR 3024 b states "a party may move to strike any scandalous or prejudicial matter unnecessarily inserted in a pleading." Petitioner argues that the selected material recited above is prejudicial and unnecessary in nature. This Court agrees with Ms. Fastman. Although the legal profession is adversarial in nature, it still warrants professionalism, courteousness and respect. Those aspects were certainly lacking by virtue of paragraph 11 and paragraph 26 in the Objectants' papers. The law and the judicial system provide a vehicle for individuals to express their frustration and an avenue to remedy injustices that may have occurred. This does not include vicious words, sarcasm or unnecessary banter belittling a member of the legal profession. Accordingly, the Court strikes all language in Paragraph 11 following the words "February 24, 2011," and that language in Paragraph 26 following "That's what I'm doing."
Finally, this matter is restores to the calendar of the Court for January 30, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. for a conference with a member of the Law Department.
This Decision shall constitute the Order of the Court.
January 3, 2013