Judiciary Law 487 and Retainer Agreements

Riverhead:  One scenario that repeatedly appears is that of an attorney, who was retained on a normal contingent fee agreement, suddenly awakes to the onset of trial and the need for an expert. The attorney also determines that expert require a fee, and sometimes turns to the client, in violation of the contingent fee agreement, and tells the client to pay for the expert.  This is what happened in Palmieri v Biggiani  2013 NY Slip Op 05194 [108 AD3d 604]  July 10, 2013  Appellate Division, Second Department. Instead of paying, the client sued.

    "Contrary to the Supreme Court's conclusion, the plaintiff stated a cause of action alleging violation of Judiciary Law § 487 (see CPLR 3211 [a] [7]; Judiciary Law § 487; Amalfitano v Rosenberg, 12 NY3d 8, 14 [2009]; Rock City Sound, Inc. v Bashian & Farber, LLP, 74 AD3d at 1172; Boglia v Greenberg, 63 AD3d 973, 975 [2009]; Kempf v Magida, 37 AD3d at 764; Izko Sportswear Co., Inc. v Flaum, 25 AD3d 534, 537 [2006]). The plaintiff alleged in the amended complaint that the defendant's assertion, made in support of the motion to be relieved as counsel, that the plaintiff "steadfastly refused to pay the litigation expenses," was knowingly false and was offered with the intent to deceive the Supreme Court into believing that the defendant originally had sufficient cause to be relieved as counsel (see Dupree v Voorhees, 102 AD3d 912, 913 [2013]). Thus, the Supreme Court should have denied that branch of the defendant's motion which was to dismiss the cause of action alleging a violation of Judiciary Law § 487."

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