Law Firm Loses Bid to Force Client's Ex-Wife to Pay Part of Its Fee, as a Matter of Equity
Haas & Gottlieb had an agreement with its client, David Addison, that one-third of any money recovered in a bankruptcy litigation would go to the law firm.
But the Scarsdale, N.Y., firm didn’t have that same arrangement with his ex-wife, who was entitled to half of Addison’s recovery under an equitable distribution agreement. Hence, Haas & Gottlieb wasn’t entitled to the one-third it sought from Addison’s ex, Ieda Fuller, of her share of an approximately $145,000 award in the bankruptcy case, a New York Supreme Court judge has ruled.
Justice William Giacomo of Westchester County was not persuaded by the firm’s argument that Fuller had received a substantial benefit from its work and should be required, as a matter of equity, to pay its legal bill, reports the New York Law Journal in an article reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).
“Merely because defendant may have derivatively benefitted from plaintiff’s representation does not impose a duty upon defendant to pay for that benefit,” he said in a written opinion.