Thursday, December 14, 2023

Contingent Fee

The Iowa Supreme Court web page has a nice feature in announcing on Thursdays the opinions it expects to post on Friday.

Up for tomorrow is its review of the Court of Appeals decision dismissing for lack of jurisdiction the complaint of a lawyer who paid $10,000 to an Indiana doctor to evaluate a potential medical malpractice case who sought a return after the "no suit" analysis

Dr. Sasso did not have a relationship with ongoing litigation in Iowa. His agreement with Harding contemplated two steps. First, evaluate a potential malpractice claim. Second, provide testimony in any ensuing litigation. So any commitment by Dr. Sasso to testify in an Iowa court was contingent on a positive evaluation of the potential malpractice claim. Indeed, when Dr. Sasso’s records review revealed no breach of the standard of care by the Iowa medical providers, no litigation ensued. Thus his contacts with Iowa were much more attenuated than the experts in Golden. Before Dr. Sasso completed his preliminary evaluation, neither he nor Harding knew whether an action would be filed, much less whether Dr. Sasso would be called as an expert witness. On this factual record, we cannot find that Dr. Sasso deliberately engaged in significant activities within Iowa.


[The] Walden [decision]  forecloses Harding’s claim that their oral agreement was sufficient to subject Dr. Sasso to personal jurisdiction in Iowa. Dr. Sasso’s sole connection with Iowa was initiated by Harding. Dr. Sasso’s knowledge that Harding was an Iowa lawyer exploring the possibility of litigation in Iowa did not create sufficient minimum contacts. “[T]he plaintiff cannot be the only link between the defendant and the forum.” Fastpath, Inc. v. Arbela Techs. Corp., 760 F.3d 816, 823 (8th Cir. 2014) (quoting Walden, 571 U.S. at 825). Their agreement that Dr. Sasso could provide expert testimony in Iowa if Harding eventually filed suit did not create personal jurisdiction.

The procedural posture of the case is an interlocuory appeal of the district court's denial of a motion to dismiss.

The briefs can be accessed here. (Mike Frisch)

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