Thursday, December 26, 2013

Rosenberg v. Levin case brief

Rosenberg v. Levin case brief summary
409 So.2d 1016 (1982)

CASE SYNOPSIS
The court reviewed a decision of the District Court of Appeal, Third District (Florida), which found that quantum meruit was the proper basis for compensating an attorney discharged without cause by his client after he had performed substantial legal services under a valid employment contract.

CASE FACTS
Respondent client discharged petitioner attorneys without cause after they performed substantial legal services under a fixed and contingency employment contract. Petitioners sued for fees in quantum meruit. The district court held that quantum meruit was the appropriate basis for recovery but lowered the trial court award to the contract fee, stating that recovery could not exceed the amount the attorneys would have received under their contract if not prematurely discharged.

DISCUSSION

  • The court affirmed and receded from its prior decision in Goodkind. 
  • The court balanced two conflicting interests, the client's need for confidence in the attorney, and the attorney's right to adequate compensation. 
  • The court held that a lawyer discharged without cause was entitled to the reasonable value of his services on the basis of quantum meruit, but recovery was limited to the maximum fee set in the contract for those services. 
  • The court rejected both the traditional contract rule and the quantum meruit rule and adopted the modified quantum meruit rule limiting recovery to the maximum amount of the contract fee in all premature discharge cases involving both fixed and contingency employment contracts.
CONCLUSION
The court affirmed that quantum meruit was the proper basis for compensating an attorney discharged without cause by his client after he performed substantial legal services under a valid employment contract where the contingency did not control and limited the quantum meruit recovery to the contract price.


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