Appellate Division, Fourth Department – Attorney’s Fees – Contingency Fee – Disproportionate Amount
Hogan Willig v. Hendel
Appealed from Supreme Court, Erie County
Background: The petitioner law firm commenced a proceeding seeking to enforce a charging lien and a contingency fee agreement with respect to proceeds from an arbitration award obtained by the respondent, for whom one of the petitioner’s attorneys performed legal services. The petitioner appealed from an order dismissing the petition and scheduling a hearing to determine the fair market value of the legal services.
Ruling: The Appellate Division affirmed. The court held that the petition was properly dismissed with regards to the contingency fee agreement. The respondent was awarded $1.23 million from her arbitration claim and the contingency fee agreement would entitle the petitioner to more than $400,000 in attorney’s fees. The amount sought was out of proportion to the value of the professional services rendered considering the amount of legal work performed and the minimal risk the petitioner faced.
Steven M. Cohen of Hogan Willig for the petitioner-appellant; Katherine Liebner of Gross, Shuman, Brizdle & Gilfillan for the respondent-respondent