Lawyer In Fee Dispute Should Have Sued Client, Not Former Co-Counsel

Lawyer A is hired to bring a personal injury case on behalf of an injured person.   With the consent of the injured person, Lawyer A associates Lawyer B.   The contract between A and B includes a fee split arrangement.  Injured person consents to fee split and the contract.   Injured person then fires Lawyer A.  Lawyer B prosecutes case and resolves it.   Lawyer A is not paid any portion of the fee.   Lawyer A sues Lawyer B under a myriad of theories.

he California Court of Appeals, Third District, rules that Lawyer A has no claim against B.   The personal injury client employed and fired Lawyer A and it was her responsibility to pay a fee if it was due under either a breach of contract theory or a quantum meruit theory.  The Court also ruled that the litigation privilege barred Lawyer A’s fraud claims against Lawyer B.

Find the opinion in Olsen v. Harbison, C058943  (Cal. Ct. App. 3rd Dis.  Dec. 28, 2010) here.