Sunday, November 8, 2009
A plaintiff couple who received a settlement of $829,500 as a share of the settlement of a federal qui tam action paid one-half of the settlement proceeds to the lawyers that had handled the matter pursuant to a contingent fee agreement. The lawyers also were paid $315,000 by the U.S. government. The case settled in May 2004.
In March 2007, the clients brought an action alleging malpractice and other causes of action against the lawyers. The district court concluded that there was no public policy prohibition against the statutory and contingency provisions of the fee agreement. The district court further held that the statute of limitations had run with respect to both claims of malpractice and of concealment regarding the settlement terms. The Montana Supreme Court affirmed the grant of summary judgment to the lawyers concluding that the statute of limitations had expired with respect to each cause of action. (Mike Frisch)