Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A law firm's motion to enforce an attorney's lien.

The Appellate Division affirmed denial of the motion where the nonparty firm alleges that, after it interposed an answer, it settled the personal injury action, but the plaintiff-client refused to sign the settlement papers.  The firm sent a letter to the plaintiff indicating its intent to move to be relieved as counsel, and the moved to confirm the purported settlement and enforce an attorney's lien pursuant to Judiciary Law § 475. In support of the motion, the firm submitted certain correspondence and the retainer agreement, but it did not submit a signed writing reflecting the terms of the purported settlement.

The Appellate Division noted that there was no stipulation made in open court, and the firm failed to proffer a signed writing reflecting a settlement or any clear indicia that the plaintiff actually authorized the purported settlement, pursuant to CPLR 2104. Without a settlement or a verdict, there was no favorable result of litigation in which the firm had a security interest, and so the firm was not entitled to confirmation of the purported settlement or an attorney's lien pursuant to Judiciary Law § 475.

Case:  Baker v. Restaurant Depot, NY Slip Op 02615 (2d Dep't April 5, 2017)

Tomorrow's issue:  Settlement agreements as to child support.