Friday, May 10, 2013

Duchrow v. Forrest (Cal. Ct. App. - April 30, 2013)

I'm looking for someone to root for here.

Lawyer A represents Lawyer B in an action against Lawyer B's employer.  Lawyer A withdraws at the beginning of trial, and the case is dismissed.

Lawyer A then sues Lawyer B for alleged unpaid fees and costs.  Lawyer A's complaint seeks $44,000, but on the fourth day of a five-day trial, seeks to up that amount ("conform to proof") by several hundred thousand dollars, relying on a provision that he knew about for years.  The trial court allows the amendment, and the jury gives him a six-figure award, but the Court of Appeal reverses.

Lawyer B, by the way, represented herself at trial.  He's a transactional lawyer.  She's also been declared a vexatious litigant.

How Lawyer B -- Ernestine Forrest -- gets to keep a spotless public disciplinary record despite having been declared a vexatious litigant I'll never know.

I'm not in favor of Lawyer B.  But I'm definitely not in favor of Lawyer A either.

If only we could just give the six-figure back pay award that Lawyer A received to the deserving poor rather than ration it out between these two . . . .