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Lawyer Replaced by Client Can’t Collect Full Contingency on $1M Settlement, Court Rules

Posted Jan 11, 2013 9:34 AM CDT
By Molly McDonough

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A state appeals court in New York ruled Thursday that a lawyer whose client replaced him in a personal injury case cannot collect his full contingency fee.

Adwoa Gyabaah, who was injured by a bus in 2010, obtained a $1 million personal injury settlement, but not before switching lawyers, Reuters reports.

New York's Appellate Division, First Department, ruled in an unsigned opinion that the settlement wasn't yet final when lawyer Jeffrey Aronsky handled the case because the settlement offer hadn't been formally communicated to the defendant, Rivlab Transportation. However, the court held that Aronsky will be allowed to place a lien on Gyabaah's recovery and receive a pro rata fee based on his contributed work, Reuters reports.

Reuters notes that in a dissent, Justice Richard Andrias considered the settlement binding because a general release was signed and defense counsel confirmed in writing that the $1 million settlement offer was accepted.

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