May 9, 2019: The Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed a verdict in favor of an attorney represented by the Firm who was accused of failing to honor a renegotiated fee agreement by his client. Partners Rob Klein, Mark Sullivan, and Andrew Feldman successfully defended the appeal.
The attorney had originally taken on the underlying case based upon a 40 percent contingency fee. However, the attorney had also agreed to credit his client with a $50,000 non-refundable retainer, if he was successful in securing a settlement or a jury verdict. The attorney agreed to renegotiate his fee after a significant settlement offer was tendered to his client shortly before the trial of the underlying case. The lawyer accepted a flat fee, which represented a significant reduction from the amount to which he would have been entitled based upon the original contingent fee agreement; However, following distribution of the settlement funds – which was in accordance with a signed distribution statement – the client asked for an additional $50,000 credit, based upon the original contingency fee agreement. When the lawyer refused to accept yet another reduction in his fees, the client filed suit, claiming civil theft and fraud.
At trial, Partners Rob Klein and Mark Sullivan secured a favorable verdict in favor of the attorney. In a written opinion, Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the verdict, opining that because the original fee credit would only have applied to the initial 40 percent contingency fee contract it had been expressly abrogated by the former client. The Court of Appeal remanded the matter for an assessment of attorney’s fees.
The opinion can be found at: Stuart Bornstein, et al v. Ira A. Marcus, et al, Fourth District Court of Appeal, case no. 4D18-0277 (May 9, 2019).
More information regarding the case can be found at: Court Sides With Broward Lawyer in Lengthy Fee Dispute With Friend Turned Client