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Client Turns Tables on Firm in Fee Dispute

Posted Sep 5, 2007 6:47 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A Texas plaintiffs firm that sued to collect an attorney fee from a former client in a medical malpractice case won exactly nothing after a three-day jury trial.

But a Tarrant County jury awarded the client $1.4 million last month on his counterclaim against the firm for intentional infliction of emotional distress, reports New York Lawyer (reg. req.), in a reprint of a Texas Lawyer article.

Such results, unfortunately for law firms, are far from unprecedented. In June, a New York jury awarded $7 million to a former client in another law firm fee suit, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

Windle Turley, whose Dallas-based firm lost the Texas case, plans to ask the judge to set aside the jury verdict. He says he filed suit as a matter of principle. The case sought to enforce a contingent fee contract that allegedly was breached when the client took the matter to another lawyer and didn't pay the Turley firm.

"It's very, very unfortunate," Turley says of the situation. "And I think it's a distressing sign of the times."

(Updated 09-06-07 at 1:50 p.m. CST)

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