Scope of Interpleader Proceeding Resolved In This Case.
Southern California Gas Co. v. Flannery, Case No. B268298 (2d Dist., Div. 5 Nov. 14, 2016) (published) involved an interpleader action filed in the wake of a settlement agreement for injuries sustained in the 2008 Sesnon wildfire, with personal injury claimants, palimony litigants, and attorneys all vying over who got what from the settlement funds. Gas Co. interpled the settlement funds, with the lower court granting it a discharge and awarding it attorney’s fees of $169,983.13 under CCP § 386.6(a). Also, it determined that the interpleader action was a proper vehicle to resolve an attorney’s lien vis-à-vis a personal injury client in the tort case producing the settlement.
The appellate court sustained both of these determinations on appeal.
It first determined that section 386.6(a) included Gas Co.’s post-discharge efforts to sustain the discharge order, which included post-trial work and appellate work along the way. Then, it found that the interpleader action did qualify as a separate, independent proceeding—apart from the prior personal injury lawsuit—allowing the lower court to adjudge an attorney’s lien as against a contesting personal injury claimant/client.