August 22, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Attorney’s Lien Void When he was Terminated for Cause

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in Martinez v. Mintz Law Firm on Tuesday, May 31, 2016.

Contingent Fees—Charging Liens—Proper Civil Action.

In this dispute regarding an attorney’s charging lien, a contingent fee plaintiff’s former attorneys asserted a lien against any settlement or judgment entered in the underlying action and in favor of plaintiff. After the underlying action was settled, successor counsel moved to void the lien, and initial counsel moved to strike successor counsel’s motion and to compel arbitration, based on an arbitration clause contained in initial counsel’s contingent fee agreement with plaintiff. The Supreme Court concluded that successor counsel’s motion to void the lien at issue was properly filed in the underlying action and that the underlying action was a “proper civil action” within the meaning of C.R.S. § 12-5-119. As a result, the Court further concluded that the lien dispute was between initial and successor counsel. Therefore, the matter (1) was not subject to arbitration pursuant to the arbitration clause in initial counsel’s contingent fee agreement with the plaintiff and (2) was properly before the district court. Finally, the Court concluded that the record supported the district court’s finding that initial counsel was not entitled to recover the fees that it was seeking. Accordingly, the Court reversed the judgment of the Court of Appeals and remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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