You got to love it when a judge resorts to the classics to get Palm Beach trial lawyer Ted Babbitt to pipe down:
A throng of attorneys negotiated at length over the holiday weekend, trying to reach a “global settlement” of their claims against Keller’s estate. They came close, but couldn’t resolve some disputes. Talks are ongoing.
Keil’s lawsuit and the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his sister’s estate were scheduled to be tried simultaneously this week. But Circuit Judge Edward Garrison concluded Tuesday that disagreements among lawyers made that too hard, so he ruled that Keil’s case will be tried first.
Ted Babbitt, the attorney representing Michael Simon, trustee of a fund created for Fred Keller Jr., was displeased. He has a claim for damages for the 12-year-old son, called Fredchen, for the loss of his mother.
“The danger is they can wipe out the estate and we’re left hanging,” Babbitt told Garrison. “You shouldn’t let one side have the advantage.”
Garrison said whatever the judgment in the Keil case, he is not required to distribute it until other claims are resolved.
Keller’s estate is worth roughly $50 million, and the competing claimants aim to deplete it.
Garrison had some spirited exchanges with Babbitt on Tuesday.
“Mr. Babbitt, your protestations are reaching Shakespearean levels,” he said after one of them.
Several attorneys said that the main sticking point to settling the complex litigation was a proposal for a settlement trust for Fredchen that would have made Simon and attorney Daniel Shepherd trustees and lawyers for the trust. Other attorneys said that was a conflict of interest that would have enabled them to collect fees indefinitely at Fredchen’s expense.
Shakespeare? I can think of a few other literary references that might also apply.