End Result Is Declaratory Relief Action Based On Attorney’s Lien Did Survive Based On Longer Four-Year SOL Relating To Written Contracts.
In Younessi v. Munoz, Case No. B265750 (2d Dist., Div. 5 Jan. 25, 2017) (unpublished), prior discharged counsel, both the individual lead attorney and the law firm, in a contingency-based personal injury case sued both client and subsequent attorneys settling client’s case. Client successfully demurred out claims by the prior individual attorney and the prior law firm representing her based on standing and statute of limitations arguments.
Those determinations were affirmed in part and reversed in part, with a remand on the reversed portions on appeal.
The appellate court found no difficulty in concluding that the individual attorney had no standing to sue because he was not a party to the contingency fee agreement, as opposed to the law firm. However, a different result occurred with respect to the law firm which was a party to the contingency agreement. The firm brought a declaratory relief claim based on an attorney’s lien provision in the contingency agreement. That was subject to a longer four-year statute of limitations (based on the written contract SOL relating to the attorney’s lien) such that the lower court’s SOL ruling was erroneous in nature. (There is a nice discussion of quantum meruit and attorney’s lien issues relating to a firm’s rights after discharge from a contingency fee relationship.) So, the matter was remanded for a reconsideration of the attorney’s lien declaratory relief count.