Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Legal Malpractice
Hall v. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C.
Plaintiffs Mary Hall, the personal representative of the estate of Adolphus Hall, Sr., and Anaya McKinnon, the personal representative of the estate of Wanzy Lee Bowman appealed the Jefferson Circuit Court's order dismissing their complaint filed against Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., a law firm ("ELG"). The plaintiffs filed a complaint in against ELG, requesting a declaratory judgment and alleging one count of unjust enrichment and one count of breach of contract. The plaintiffs asserted those claims on behalf of the estates they represented and on behalf of "others similarly situated as a class action pursuant to Rule 23," Ala. R. Civ. P. In the 1990s, ELG agreed to represent hundreds of clients who had been exposed to asbestos, including Adolphus Hall and Bowman; ELG entered into an attorney-employment agreement with each client; pursuant to that agreement, ELG agreed to "take all legal steps necessary to enforce the said tort claim," and in return ELG would receive 40% of amounts collected from any settlement or judgment as its fee; the agreement also permitted ELG to reimburse itself for reasonable expenses related to the clients' claims. The "crux" of the plaintiffs' claims is that ELG breached the attorney-employment agreement by allegedly taking as an attorney fee more than 40% of the settlement proceeds. ELG filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' appeal, arguing that the Supreme Court did not have subject-matter jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' appeal because "[o]nly the Alabama State Bar has jurisdiction to resolve the dispute between the parties." The Supreme Court concluded the trial court erred in dismissing plaintiffs' complaint, and affirmed the denial of ELG's motion to dismiss.View "Hall v. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. " on Justia Law
Young v. Achenbauch
In 1991, a group of flight attendants initiated a class action suit against several tobacco companies. The suit resulted in a settlement agreement. Subsequently, the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute (FAMRI) was formed, and several of the flight attendants who were part of the class action became members of FAMRI’s board, including Patricia Young and Alani Blissard. Thereafter, several flight attendants filed individual suits against the tobacco companies. Steve Hunter and Philip Gerson were among the attorneys who represented the flight attendants. In 2010, a group of attorneys, including Gerson and Hunter, filed a petition against FAMRI on behalf of some of the flight attendants who were part of the original class, seeking an accounting of FAMRI’s funds and requesting that the settlement funds be dispersed directly to their clients. Young, Blissard and FAMRI moved to disqualify the attorneys on the ground of conflict of interest. The trial court entered an order disqualifying several attorneys, including Hunter and Gerson. The Third District Court of Appeals quashed the trial court’s order. The Supreme Court quashed the Third District’s decision and reinstated the trial court’s disqualification order, holding that disqualification was warranted in this case.View "Young v. Achenbauch" on Justia Law