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Law firm sued over med-mal fees prevails on appeal

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An Indianapolis law firm was properly granted summary judgment in a lawsuit brought by a former client in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

Rogelio Garcia sued the firm claiming breach of contract and illegal fee collections in Rogelio Garcia v. Garau Germano Hanley & Pennington, P.C., 49A02-1401-PL-7. Garcia sued after his then-wife, Renee, gave birth to a child in May 2001 who died less than a year later while receiving medical care. The couple retained GGHP to sue their son’s doctor.

The case was settled in 2008 with the Garcias receiving $250,000 from the doctor – the maximum allowed by statute – and the Patient’s Compensation Fund paying the Garcia’s the maximum $1 million. The fund paid $900,000 up front and $100,000 in an annuity. The law firm took $62,333 of the doctor’s payment – one-third of the value of the current settlement as allowed by statute.

GGHP also took 15 percent of the fund settlement as law allows, plus another $124,668 it determined it was entitled to receive, collecting fees of $337,001 on a total present value recovery of $1,137,001.

“This amount was authorized under the contract. The manner in which GGHP accounted for its fee adjustment does not compel a conclusion that GGHP took a share of the Fund settlement above the fifteen percent permitted by statute,” Senior Judge Betty Barteau wrote for the panel, citing  In re Stephens, 867 N.E.2d 148, 155-156 (Ind. 2007).



 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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