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Law firm won’t split $250K check with attorney’s estate, says his suicide voided fee-share agreement

Posted Feb 24, 2014 2:30 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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After Ira Bordow committed suicide at his Wisconsin home last year, his brother found a $250,000 check from an insurance company on the front seat of the dead man's Lexus.

It was made out to Bordow and Styles & Pumpian, the law firm with which the 54-year-old practitioner had been working on an auto accident case, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. So executor David Bordow, who was also his brother's law partner, sent the check to Styles & Pumpian.

At that point, what he had expected to be a routine matter became contentious. Styles & Pumpian refused to pay Ira Bordow's estate the $41,666 cut of the settlement that David Bordow says was due under a fee-sharing agreement. The firm argued that Ira Bordow's suicide was a breach that voided the contract.

"Ira terminated his relationship with us regarding this action without notice and without cause," Edward Styles wrote in a Jan. 15 letter to David Bordow that is now part of a Milwaukee County Circuit Court case file. Styles declined the newspaper's request for additional comment.

The estate, through its attorney, is asking a judge to order Styles & Pumpian to ante up.

"Any theory of him breaching the contract by taking his own life is nonsense," said attorney Robert Rondini of Ira Bordow. "He completed all of the work, he received the check. The estate is entitled to the money."

The Styles firm declined to comment when contacted by the ABA Journal, saying that it does not discuss ongoing legal matters.

Updated on Feb. 27 to include no-comment from the Styles firm.

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