October 5, 2010
Arbitration Rule Enforced
An attorney filed suit in Maryland Circuit Court for a declaratory judgment to enforce his claim to 50% of an award affirmed on appeal. He in turn appealed a decision that removed the case to the District of Columbia Bar's fee arbitration process and thereafter enforced the award in favor of the client.
The attorney argued that there was no arbitration provision in his retainer agreement with the client. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals held that the attorney was obligated to arbitrate and affirmed the judgment:
...when [the attorney] elected to avail himself of the right to practice in the District of Columbia, he agreed to abide by the Rules established by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Pursuant to [applicable rules], [he] agreed to arbitrate a fee dispute with [the client] upon her request. [The attorney's] contention that there was no agreement to arbitrate fee disputes is without merit.
The court also rejected the contention that the issue between the parties was not a fee dispute.
The client's case involved injuries sustained at a hotel in the District of Columbia. (Mike Frisch)
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