COA: Attorney must wait to collect fees

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court's ruling on when an attorney could receive his compensation under a contingency fee agreement, even though the attorney didn't submit a transcript of the bench trial detailing the trial court's findings.

In Thomas J. Herr v. Carter Lumber Inc., The Carter Jones Lumber Company, and Brian L. Oaks, No. 79A02-0803-CV-290, before ruling on the issue Thomas Herr was appealing - whether the trial court erred in ordering he receive compensation under a contingency fee agreement only after his former client, Carter Lumber, makes a recovery - the appellate court first had to determine whether the fact Herr didn't provide a transcript of the bench trial in his appeal warranted the court dismissing the appeal.

Relying on previous cases regarding this issue - Pabey v. Pastrick, 816 N.E.2d 1138, 1141-1142 (Ind. 2004) and In re Walker, 665 N.E.2d 586, 588 (Ind. 1996), the Court of Appeals ruled it would address the issue Herr raised.

Carter Lumber hired Herr to represent it in certain collection matters at the rate of $175 per hour plus reimbursement of any advanced costs, and other collection matters on the basis of a 25 percent contingent fee with the client to pay court costs.

At some point, Herr's representation was terminated and he filed a complaint against Carter Lumber seeking quantum meruit compensation, as measured by his normal fee of $185 per hour for all the work he did that hadn't been paid.

Because the contract between Herr and Carter Lumber didn't spell out what Herr's compensation would be in the event he was terminated, the trial court ruled the attorney would have to wait until funds are collected on behalf of the client to collect his fee.

Citing similar caselaw that dealt with a contingency fee agreement that didn't specify a termination clause, the appellate court determined Herr can't receive compensation for his attorney fees until Carter Lumber receives payment from collections.

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  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

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  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...