Fridley page 88

[St. Louis Star-Times, April 16, 1941]

Assistant City Counselor Makes Proposal to Owners—Asks 7 1-2 Per Cent Fee.

            Samuel M. Watson, special assistant city counselor of St. Louis who expects to be replaced as a result of the change in city administrations appeared last night before a meeting of owners of land on the site of the government TNT plant near Weldon Springs and offered to defend condemnation suits at a fee of 7½ per cent on the net amount obtained by the landowners.
            No action was taken at the meeting, which was held in the Weldon Springs Church Hall, but many of the 125 in attendance crowded around Watson, asking where they could get in touch with him.
            The appearance of Watson, who told a reporter he owns a one-eighth interest in a fifty-seven-acre tract of the land involved, followed the reading by Dr. O. L. Snyder, retired physician and chairman of the meeting, of a proposed contract drawn up by a committee of five, including Dr. Snyder, after they had interviewed three other attorneys.
            Under this contract, the three attorneys—William R. Gentry of St. Louis and B. H. Dyer and William Waye, Jr., of St. Charles—would represent the group of landowners as a whole for a fee of 7½ per cent of the amount paid for the land, plus an additional 2½ per cent if the cases were carried to the appellate or supreme court.
McDowell Telegram.
            After the proposed contract had been read, Osmond Haenssler, a St. Charles attorney, read a telegram from R. Newton McDowell, Kansas City contractor who negotiated for the government the original options on the land. The options later were set aside in favor of condemnation proceedings.
            In his telegram, McDowell advised the landowners to employ individual attorneys.
            “I think you should go to a specialist,” said Haenssler, who also is one of the landowners. “Now I know one. Sam Watson, one of the best condemnation attorneys in St. Louis.”
            Watson, as special assistant city counselor, handles condemnation proceedings for St. Louis.
            Discussion followed in the audience as to whether attorneys should be hired to represent the group as a whole, or whether each landowner should employ his own counsel.
            “The big fight now,” said one man, “is to make the government comply with the options. The condemnation suits are each individual’s own fight, but the options are for all of us.”
            Haenssler again urged that each landowner employ his own counsel.
            “I think Sam Watson is outside,” he added.
            “Do you think he could be persuaded to come in?” someone in the audience asked.
            “Well, I think he might,” Haenssler replied.
            Watson came in.
            Then for a half hour he outlined the technical details of carrying a case to the supreme court. He expressed the opinion a test case would come only on appeal to a higher court.
            When one of the landowners asked if he would state his fee, he said:
            “It Is 7½ per cent of the net amount you get, no matter how far I have to take the case.”
            Asked if he had a legal force large enough to handle the cases, Watson replied, ‘I believe I could arrange it.”
            Then Dr. Snyder asked, “Will the audience excuse us while we consult with Mr. Watson?”
Smaller Fee.
            Watson and the committee retired for fifteen minutes and when they came back Watson said:
            “In the event the government does not press all the cases, and in those cases in which I do no more than file an answer to a suit, I would charge only 4 per cent.”
            When asked by members of the audience, Watson expressed a willingness to enter into a contract with anyone who wanted his services.
            Then Dr. Snyder said:
            “There’s one thing I want make clear, Sam Watson didn’t come here for a job tonight. He’s a landholder himself.”
$4,500 a Year.
            Later, talking with the reporter, Watson was asked, “This will be better than $4,500 a year for you, won’t it?”
            “I should hope so,” he replied. “I saw this coming for a long time, so I didn’t get all tied up with a lot of suits. I’ve already got $150,000 in option suits to handle.”
            Asked if he had been requested by the new city administration to resign from the city counselor’s office, he said he had not, but added, “I expect to be going pretty soon, though.”