Thursday, February 19, 2015

Calvo Fisher & Jacob LLP v. Lujan (Cal. Ct. App. - Feb. 19, 2015)

Lawyers can make a lot of money.  They can also spend a lot of money.

All of which happens here.

Which lawyer would you rather be?  You could be David Lujan -- a big-time attorney in Guam -- who (among other things) took a case in which he proved to a jury that his client, Junior, was an heir of Larry Hillbroom, who was one of the founders of DHL Worldwide Express and who disappeared while piloting a plane near Saipan.  That victory won his client over $90 million.  For which Lujan received a contingency fee of roughly 38 percent.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

So that sounds like a pretty good choice.

But with every silver lining there's a cloud.  Eventually, Junior reaches the age of majority and files a lawsuit against Lujan in California, represented by Girardi Keese, that claims that Lujan conspired with others to fraudulently increase his contingent fee from 38 percent to 56 percent.  That's a big-time suit itself, seeking multiple millions.  Plus Lujan eventually wants to file a defamation suit against Girardi Keese (in Guam) for stuff it allegedly said about him in a press conference, and some additional ancillary litigation as well.

Which means Lujan's going to need a lawyer.

Enter Lujan's attorney friend, Eduardo Calvo.  Also in Guam.  Who agrees to represent Lujan in the various actions.

Not for free.  Not at all.

Calvo ends up billing almost $1.5 million to Lujan.  Who only pays a little over $300,000.  These two former friends talk a ton about the various lawsuits -- pretty much every day -- but also fight a ton about the amount of fees that Lujan's being charged.

Hence the future lawsuit between Calvo and Lujan.  Over fees.

Ultimately, that case goes to trial.  And Calvo wins a little under a million bucks -- the full amount he sought.  Plus another $300,000+ in prejudgment interest.

Not bad.  Not bad at all.

But it gets even better.  Then Calvo files a motion for costs, which is (of course) disputed, but he gets nearly all his costs awarded.  More critically, he also files a motion for fees.  Which he also wins.  To the tune of another $1.5 million-plus.

So choosing being Calvo, rather than Lujan, doesn't sound so bad either.

Mind you, both of 'em end up with tons of money.  But both of them also end up with huge, years-long headaches.  Plus one fewer friend.

But need I remind you that we're talking multiple millions of dollars?

Tough choices.