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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