The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cheryl R. Zwart United States Magistrate Judge
The previously named defendant, FedEx National LTL, Inc., was dismissed by summary judgment on May 4, 2012. (Filing No. 146). A settlement conference was held between the plaintiffs and the remaining defendants on October 10, 2012. Based on the information of record and the representations of counsel, there are insufficient funds available from the remaining defendants, Fresh Start, Inc., Oleg Velichkov, Nermin Doneski, Milco Doneski, and Mickey's Trucking Express, Inc., (hereinafter referred to as "released defendants") to fully compensate either plaintiff and those who rendered services to, or paid for services on behalf of, either plaintiff for the damages arising from the accident at issue. The settlement conference therefore focused on how to equitably allocate the limited funds available.
The settlement conference ended with an agreement regarding the percent of available funds to be allocated to each plaintiff. The parties agreed that Monica Nolan would receive
57.5 percent of the available funds and the Estate of Chaungene L. Ward would receive the remaining 42.5 percent. Counsel for each plaintiff was then responsible for negotiating with lienholders in the hopes that some money would be available to pay the plaintiffs themselves after all liens were paid. That issue has been pending for over five months. As represented by counsel for plaintiff Monica Nolan (Filing No. 167), and the filing made by St. Elizabeth's Hospital (Filing No. 166), all the negotiated lien amounts are now available save one: the amount owed to TennCare. That lien remains subject to negotiation. In a very unusual and concerted effort to wrap this case up, in my capacity as the presiding officer over the settlement conference, my chambers contacted TennCare directly several times in the hopes of moving this matter along, but to no avail.
Maintaining the status quo while TennCare continues to consider its position is unacceptable. Plaintiff Nolan has received nothing in settlement for an accident that occurred over five years ago. But the released defendants are unable to pay settlement funds directly to her when those funds remain subject to liens. The lienholders who discounted their liens substantially for the sake of Plaintiff Nolan are entitled to be paid at least the discounted amount, Ms. Nolan is entitled to be paid, and the released defendants, who were ready and willing to pay even before the settlement conference, are entitled to close this file with an assurance that their payment obligations for the accident at issue are complete and as to them, this case is fully and finally settled.
Accordingly, the court ordered the released defendants to deposit their funds with the court. The parties have provided the following accounting for the distributions due with respect to Monica Nolan:
Total Gross Settlement $464,963.49 Legal Fees-Gatti Keltner Law Firm
Fees-Cochran, Cherry Law Firm (152,789.50) St. Elizabeth's Lien (46,000.00)
(29,716.78) Final amount undetermined as of this date.
Lincoln Surgical Group (51,715.20) Total Due Monica Nolan $175,887.63
resolution of the TennCare lien.
Pursuant to the terms of the parties' settlement, all known legal expenses for both Plaintiffs, a sum totaling $163,950.00, were to be paid in full prior to the distribution of settlement monies by the agreed upon percentage to the two plaintiffs. Of those expenses, Plaintiff Nolan still owes $48,472.47 to the law firm of Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, and $11 ,990.43 to the law firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens & Smith, P.C. (Filing No. 168, ¶¶ 6-7).
The parties further represent that all disbursements, including the legal expenses owed to Humphrey, Farrington & McClain, have been made with respect to the Estate of Chaungene L. Ward except legal fees owed to the Gary, Williams Law Firm in the amount of $114,556.21 and legal expenses owed to the Gary, Williams Law Firm in the amount of $62,994.08. LPG National Capital, LLC ("LPG") and The Northern Trust Company ("Northern Trust") each hold senior liens over all fees and costs owed to Gary, Williams pursuant to secured loans extended to Gary, Williams which are currently in default. LPG, Northern Trust, the Gary Williams law firm, and the released defendants have entered into a ...