Legal Malpractice Cases and Attorney Fee Collections
A recurring theme in defense-side publications in the legal malpractice field is the connection between attorney fee collection suits and subsequent legal malpractice counter-claims. For us, its a chicken-egg issue. Is the legal malpractice case a shameless effort to avoid payment, or did the non-payment arise because there was poor performance (read: legal malpractice)?
We don't know, and we definitely don't link the two in this story. We have no opinion on the quality of work performed by the Kasowitz law firm. We do predict many further events in this large fee collection lawsuit reported today in the NYLJ by Christine Simmons.
"Kasowitz Sues Ex-Client for $2.3 Million in Fees
New York Law Journal
Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman is suing hedge fund manager Alphonse Fletcher Jr. for $2.3 million in unpaid legal fees after the firm represented him in a high-profile discrimination suit against the Dakota, the legendary co-op on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (See Complaint). Kasowitz Benson lawyers, including managing partner Marc Kasowitz, were counsel to Fletcher and Fletcher Asset Management.
Fletcher, a former president of the co-op board, alleged that the Dakota discriminated against him based on his race in its refusal to approve his application to purchase an apartment next to his own for the purpose of combining the two. Fletcher, in Fletcher v. Dakota, 101289-2011, in Manhattan Supreme Court, also alleged the Dakota defamed him by making false statements about his finances, including an observation that he had "checked out of his business" and was living on "borrowed money." The Dakota case is still pending.
In its Sept. 19 collection lawsuit, Kasowitz Benson v. Alphonse Fletcher, Fletcher Asset Management, 158590/2013, Kasowitz said it advised Fletcher from July 2011 through November 2012, and Fletcher did not object to the invoices. The firm said it has received partial payment of about $1 million, leaving an unpaid balance of about $2.3 million. The suit said Fletcher "ceased paying any of the fees and disbursements" under the retainer agreement "despite repeated demands for payment."
Nathaniel Read, a partner at Cohen & Gresser who represents Fletcher, did not return a message seeking comment. Neither Kasowitz nor a representative of the firm returned messages for comment."