Reeve v. Meleyco, Third App. Dist., case no. C085867, filed 3/24/20. Client contacts lawyer 1 about a serious traffic accident inuring the client's wife and child. Client and lawyer 1 meeting with lawyer 2 about the case and discuss a division of fees, 35% to lawyer 1. Lawyer 2 and client sign a fee agreement without any discussion of the fee division. Lawyer 1 continues to work on the case. Client becomes nervous that he will have to pay lawyer 1 in addition to paying lawyer 2 his contingent fee. Lawyer 2 sends client a document that asks him to certify his “understanding” that lawyer 1 would receive 25% of the fees and that the total fee would not be increased because of the division. Client signs the following acknowledgment “I, [client], acknowledge receipt of this letter and understand the contents.” The case settles, the money is disbursed but lawyer 1 is not paid. He files an action against lawyer 2 and recovers a judgment based on breach of the fee splitting agreement and quantum meruit. On appeal, the judgment is reversed. The Court of Appeal finds the fee-splitting agreement is unenforceable because the client did not expressly approve the terms of the division, as required by former Rule of Professional Conduct 2-200 (now Rule 1.5.1. It also found that the quantum meruit claim was barred by the two-year statute of limitations (Code Civ. Proc. §339.)
There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.
Leave a Comment