Lawyer thread

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Jax Teller, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. Gallant Knight

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    so, this is a new one.

    we have a client who fired a previous lawyer. he sent a letter to the insurance company and client saying he is retaining an interest. he died and his firm website is still up but the phone number just rings with no one picking up.

    do i get all the fees now? i'm assuming yes?
     
  2. MORBO!

    MORBO! Hello, Tiny Man. I WILL DESTROY YOU!!!!
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    I'm guessing he has an estate that has another firm or another attorney handling any of his financial interests. I would hold that money in escrow until you get a final resolution on that.
     
  3. Gallant Knight

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    i just called the ethics hotline.
     
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  4. Gallant Knight

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    don't see his name anywhere in the probate court filings. he died like 9 months ago
     
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  5. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    I'd send 2-3 self serving letters to his law firm/email showing your attempts to satisfy his interest. After those attempts fail then take the money. That's a good enough defense to conversion. Probably.
     
  6. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Is it in Harris County?
     
  7. Gallant Knight

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    his firm was yes
     
  8. El Tiburon

    El Tiburon Well-Known Member
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    True. We’re a two-man shop right now and have been fortunate to have the workload we carry and the amount of cases we continue to bring in. We also try more cases than our competitors do and that’s what has driven business our way. So the two options I’m exploring now are either joining a big regional firm that opened up an office down here and could use a partner to establish a stronger trial group (this is an option that has been offered already) or open up shop with a friend of mine from another firm so we’re still at least two guys and can look at expanding. My current situation is untenable for more reasons than I can go into openly.
     
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  9. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Then you're fine. No judge here is going to bend you over the barrel if you paper your attempts to do the right thing.
     
  10. Gallant Knight

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    i'm not that concerned it looked like a rinky dink operation and he didn't actually do anything on the case other than send an NOR to the insurance company and my client fired him for bad communication.

    i didn't even know about her having another lawyer until yesterday when we send drafting instructions and the insurance company sent me the letter.
     
  11. El Tiburon

    El Tiburon Well-Known Member
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    Was he a solo practitioner? His firm would have to file a lien with the courts and if nobody has done that yet or can do so in the near future, then you don’t have to pay shit.
     
  12. Gallant Knight

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    i'll see what the ethics people say when they call but my plan is to send an email once a week for four weeks and if i get no response then i'll move the money from my iolta.

    it looks like it was a solo who had a dude who was of counsel or something and then a receptionist.

    nothing in the probate court
     
  13. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
    Donor TMB OG

    this is similar to MS. For a MS State comp claim the trial is usually
    (1) Plaintiff
    (2) Plaintiff may have a vocational rehab expert
    (3) I guess Plaintiff could have a before/after witness but I usually don't do that
    (4) Employer/carrier will often call one of their representatives as a corporate witness if there is an issue re compensability such as a failed or refused drug test
    (5) Employer/carrier's vocational expert
    Doctors never testify live at the hearings. Doctor depos, doctor causation letters/questionnaires , EME reports, IME reports all go straight into evidence.

    I've had half day and full day trials. We call them a "hearing on the merits."
     
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  14. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    There are some solo insurance defense lawyers or firms with 2 attorneys here. Said firms usually consist of a rainmaker that used to be at a bigger insurance defense firm that went out on his own and brought a book of business with him and then hired an associate or two.
     
  15. Lawnole23

    Lawnole23 FSU Seminoles 2020 National Champions
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    Same “merits hearing.” Very rare for a doctor to be live. I had one go all day and until 10pm because we had an accident reconstruction expert testify live and that took like 3 hours.
     
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  16. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    That's not a new one for me. The question becomes does the lawyer have an estate? Has the LLC that his business operated under been wrapped up? What does the secretary of state website say about it? I have a claim with a dead former lawyer whose estate is still pursuing the attorney lien.
     
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  17. Gallant Knight

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    thanks i'll see if his llc has been dissolved or isn't active. there isn't an estate that i can see that is actively being probated.
     
  18. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    Usually a comp case isn't worth spending a ton of money on. Now if it's a $200k case with $50k in fees , I might spend some money on it. But usually I don't have $1,000 into a comp case.
     
  19. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    I think you have to show all of that to the carrier and they are still going to ask for a hold harmless/indemnification as to the lien. But if you show them all that and give them a hold harmless they'll probably pay it out.
     
  20. Gallant Knight

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    their letter just asked us to say that he would satisfy his interest. i think i can just get them to make the check out to us, that firm and our client. they might not even require us to get the other firms name on the check
     
  21. Gallant Knight

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    looks like he didn't have an llc or entity registered in texas
     
  22. Gallant Knight

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    lol adjuster was like oh sorry to hear he died can i send you the check now and can you just have your client fill out the release when she comes to pick up the check

    was like yep sounds good!
     
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  23. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    That's good. That situation could have played very differently depending on the adjuster.
     
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  24. SmoochieWallace

    SmoochieWallace Ipse dixit
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    RIP TCPA claims.
     
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  25. Gallant Knight

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    just talked to an ethics lawyer from the bar. forgot how much i hate all of those fucking dorks who have never actually done real legal work
     
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  26. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Got this family a multi-million dollar settlement. Gross neg case, so damages are punitive. They're angry about the tax issue and now are nitpicking every single sentence of the settlement release and refusing to sign it. I hate everything.
     
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  27. Gallant Knight

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    paying taxes on millions of dollars sounds like a good problem to have
     
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  28. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    If settled, how is there a determination of which damages were punitive and compensatory?
     
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  29. Gallant Knight

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    was about to ask the same thing. why does the insurance company care how the $ is allocated? they're paying $X either way
     
  30. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Because it's a sophisticated carrier and they recognize the only damages we could have recovered are punitive. They don't want to get in trouble. 99% of the time this isn't an issue and we can skate by in the grey area based on what you just wrote.
     
  31. Lawnole23

    Lawnole23 FSU Seminoles 2020 National Champions
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    Question from opposing counsel on a florida workers comp case deposition of the EMA:

    "Doctor, are you aware of any medical literature or studies in thermodynamics or quantum physics regarding the major contributing cause standard used to determine compensability of workers compensation cases in florida?:
     
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  32. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    It could be tax fraud.

    Got it. Here, wrongful death is punitive damages only, but any other cause of action requires compensatories to obtain punitives, and the supreme court has used soft multipliers on reviewing verdicts. So, you can pretty much always stay in that grey area.

    If you can without revealing too much about the case, what kind of fact pattern would end up with a multimillion dollar case without compensatories?
     
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  33. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Young high-ish wage earner so the punitive damage cap was 8 figures. Texas has a statutory formula that creates a cap based on economic and non-economic damages.
     
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  34. Lawnole23

    Lawnole23 FSU Seminoles 2020 National Champions
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    Just dealt with this when trying to get funds and allocate towards a comp case and a labor law claim. It has to do with IRS regulations regarding what is allocated towards certain damages like back pay. We had to allocate a certain % of the portion on the labor law side towards back pay for that reason.
     
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  35. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    Interesting. How does the statute determine the non-economic damages?
     
  36. BUstang

    BUstang Lawyer

    Allows up to 750k. So for a case like this you just plug 750k into the formula because the non-economics would have been massive.
     
  37. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    This is our jury instruction on pain and suffering:

    "The law has no fixed monetary standard to compensate for physical pain and mental anguish. This element of damage is left to your good sound judgment and discretion as to what amount would reasonably and fairly compensate the plaintiff for such physical pain and mental anguish as you find from the evidence the plaintiff did suffer.

    If you are reasonably satisfied from the evidence that the plaintiff has undergone [or will undergo]pain and suffering or mental anguish as a proximate result of the injury in question, you should award a sum which will reasonably and fairly compensate him for such pain, suffering, or mental anguish [already]suffered by him [and for any pain, suffering or mental anguish which you are reasonably satisfied from the evidence that he is reasonably certain to suffer in the future]."

    So, they're often a whole lot higher than your cap.
     
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  38. Sammy Meatballs

    Sammy Meatballs Pete Gelding
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    thought this said tvpa claims at first and was about to say I jumped into some cases at the absolute wrong time.

    now I just feel bad for all my 1500 per call lawyer friends in Florida.
     
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  39. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    This TX cap stuff sounds really confusing.
     
  40. Z

    Z Well-Known Member
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    Yep. We’ve gone toward doing almost all PI cases pain and suffering only. Don’t even let jury know about bills.
     
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  41. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    You have to have gross negligence and wanton disregard to get punitives here in a PI claim. I can't even tell you the last time punitive damages went to the jury here on a PI claim. 95%+ of the time a judge is going to grant MSJ on punitives. Or they will bifurcate the trial and if they allow you to put on evidence of punitives, they will grant a directed verdict on it at the close of your case. You probably see them most often in labor law and employment cases.
    "The verdict was mixed. While Hicks lost on the quid pro quo count, she did prevail on the hostile environment claim. Continuing, the jury rejected compensatory damages – despite that finding, the jury further elected to award punitive damages of $24,000. A consistent judgment was entered."
    Or you see a few where they get popped with compensatories and settle before punitives:
    "A highly regarded major league prospect suffered fatal injuries in a Ford SUV rollover – his estate valued his economic loss (assuming he was of All- Star capability) at from $112 million to $147 million – while wage loss was just $56,000,000 of the verdict, this was a pre-tort reform lawsuit and the caps were not applicable – the case settled before the punitive damages phase"
     
  42. RJF-GUMP

    RJF-GUMP Daubert Qualified in Cooler Thermodynamics
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    the bills can be an anchor.
     
  43. BamaNug

    BamaNug The journey itself is the point
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    Man I've about had it with my fucking boss. I know I've grown more empathetic in my 30s, but he is just a bad person. Some context - he is the main trucking guy at our firm, responsible for like 90% of my caseload. He fits every stereotype you can imagine of meathead white-collar fratguy that never left that lifestyle behind. Oh, and he just became managing partner this year.

    He constantly berates Plaintiffs, calling them "fucking losers," or "look at this douchebag" -- just talking about the Plaintiff bringing a claim. Just this morning, we have a case where our semi ran a redlight and t-boned a metrobus. Bad accident, obviously clear liability. He calls to ask me about the file, opens up my depo summary, "geez what an ugly bitch." We have a case with 2 dead minors, and he has made several "jokes" about "yea, I think they'll have to open the checkbook on this one," while chuckling.

    He's also incredibly misogynic, anytime we're going against a female lawyer, she's a "fucking cunt." I have been given several opportunities that should have gone to female associates with more experience and more tenure at the firm, but he'll blow it off, "the trucking world is a man's world." I'm not the only one who shares this sentiment -- my best friend at the firm is a female associate, and she confirms, "all the women think he is incredibly sexist."

    So I'm struggling with how to deal with it. On one hand, I fully intend on leaving the firm before the year is over, so part of me just says deal with it for a few more months. There's also zero doubt in my mind that if I raised these with him, he'd think "what a fucking pussy." And do I want to go behind the managing partner's back to report him?

    On the other hand, this guy is an objectively shitty person. I'm far from perfect, so if we get into a pissing match, there is probably some ammunition he has on me. I've never spoken up, because fuck, you want the associate to tell the managing partner, "hey dude, too far."

    Shitty, shitty Friday. Eat Arbys.
     
  44. Gallant Knight

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    If you speak up it will not go well for you
     
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  45. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    I’d just deal with it and leave.
     
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  46. Tiger Tiger Woods Y'all

    Tiger Tiger Woods Y'all Putting big balls in little holes, circa 1995
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    Just call him a real mother fucker on the way out
     
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  47. colonel_forbin

    colonel_forbin Well-Known Member
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    I don't understand why more insurance companies don't hire lawyers on a contingency fee for subrogation claims.
     
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  48. Gallant Knight

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    Firm I worked for in law school did this

    25% contingency fee with the insurance company paying expenses

    The partners are all worth 9 figures
     
  49. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
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    It's because most insurance companies want to decrease legal costs as much as possible. Paying a shitty hourly rate is going to cost them less than paying a big contingency fee.
     
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  50. colonel_forbin

    colonel_forbin Well-Known Member
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    Seems like there could be a niche for it in certain types of cases.

    Sure, but not every case is a winner. Why not take a shot on a contingency fee if it's a closer call?