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This case was against an attorney involving particularly egregious breaches of professional responsibility, fiduciary duties and ethics. Our client sought damages and disgorgement of attorney’s fees paid to attorney in connection with attorney’s representation of client in a personal injury action. On the eve of trial and contrary to the attorney-client contingent fee agreement (which required the attorney to advance all costs), attorney demanded that client advance a significant sum to cover the costs of trial or attorney would withdraw. Client was unable to pay the amount demanded (a fact clearly known to the attorney at, and before that time), at which point attorney arranged and signed for a litigation loan on behalf of client. The litigation loan had very steep re-payment and interest rate terms which accrued exponentially on a daily basis. In fact, it was disputed whether this loan was even legal under the usury laws in the State of California.

Client received a monetary judgment in his favor in the underlying personal injury action, but client and attorney disputed the amount to which attorney was due to the vast amount owed on the litigation loan. The monetary award was therefore placed in an interpleader fund with the court. Client requested that attorney agree to release the undisputed portion of the interplead funds to which client was entitled and leave the remainder in the fund pending resolution of their dispute. Attorney unreasonable refused to release the undisputed portion of the funds even despite the court’s advising the attorney to release the portion not in dispute. The interest on the loan continued to build. Attorney’s failure to release the funds was just one example of the many breaches which resulted in financial hardship to client, who was unable to work due to the accident. The failure to release the funds also resulted in client’s inability to pay his outstanding medical and other bills, for which he was sued, and was facing two judgments and several liens.

The case settled with the disputed loan amounts being primarily paid by the attorney. Client was ultimately able to receive the monies to which he was entitled and in addition, the attorney was required to pay all the client’s outstanding medical bills and liens.