Law Firms

Duane Morris settles with client who said firm went $600K over budget

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A Pennsylvania doctor has settled his overbilling dispute with Duane Morris, the Legal Intelligencer reported Wednesday.

The law firm reached a confidential settlement with Edward Zaloga in Pennsylvania state court and will dismiss the case, the newspaper says.

Zaloga retained Duane Morris in 2010 to sue the municipal government of Moosic—which is near Scranton, Pennsylvania—for deprivation of his First Amendment rights. Zaloga had alleged in that case that the town did not let him air his views about a zoning dispute.

At that time, according to Zaloga’s complaint, the parties agreed on a litigation budget of $255,750, which was to cover everything through post-trial motions. But Duane Morris went over that budget by more than $600,000, Zaloga said in his June lawsuit. His lawsuit against Duane Morris alleged that the firm should have told him he was unlikely to recover enough attorney fees to cover the cost of litigation, and that its attorneys should have re-evaluated their fee agreement after pretrial setbacks.

When Duane Morris—represented by Fox Rothschild—answered the complaint, it said the $255,750 was clearly marked as an estimate. It also said it had reached a settlement of the fee dispute with Zaloga in 2015, the Intelligencer reported in July. Under the terms of that agreement, it claimed, the firm would keep what it had been paid and waive the outstanding fees of more than $300,000. The answer also made counterclaims against Zaloga for breach of contract.

Duane Morris ultimately withdrew from Zaloga’s underlying lawsuit against Moosic, after setbacks including the dismissal of multiple claims and eventually the entire case. Zaloga found other attorneys after Duane Morris’ withdrawal, but ultimately lost the case.

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