Fee dispute between law firm and client results in counter-claim; $146K. Orange County.

Summary

Law firm sues for its fees; client countersues firm for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

The Case

  • Case Name: Bohm Wildish, LLP v. Teresa Roebuck in her capacity as trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2016-00862253-CU-CL-CJC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, July 07, 2016
  • Type of Action: Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Fraud
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Walter P. Schwarm
  • Plaintiffs:
    Bohm Wildish, LLP
    Cross Complainant – Teresa Roebuck in her capacity as trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
  • Defendants:
    Teresa Roebuck in her capacity of Trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
    Cross defendant – Daniel Wildish
    Cross defendant – Bohm Wildish, LLP
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $146,375.60 for plaintiff law firm on its breach of contract claim; defense verdict on the cross complaint.
  • Net Verdict or Award: $146,375.60
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Bohm Wildish, LLP awarded $146,375.60 on its complaint.

    Unanimous defense verdict for Bohm Wildish, LLP and Daniel Wildish on Roebuck's cross-complaint for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty seeking over $10 million in damages.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Bohm Wildish & Matsen, LLP by James G. Bohm, Costa Mesa.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Arthur Lettenmaier by Arthur Lettenmaier, Agoura Hills.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    James Ulwelling, Esq., standard of care and fiduciary duties, Costa Mesa.

    James Hibert, real estate valuation, Carlsbad

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Daniel M. Smith, Esq., standard of care and fiduciary duties, San Diego.

    Kim Onesko, economics, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a law firm, sued defendant for breach of a contract to settle a fee dispute.

    Defendant filed a cross-complaint against the firm and one if its partners, claiming fraud and a breach of fiduciary duty resulting in the loss of a 1/2-acre parcel of property near the ocean in Dana Point. Cross-complainant claimed over $10 million in damages.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that defendant trustee Roebuck entered into an agreement to settle a fee dispute with her lawyers (plaintiffs) for $100,000.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant and cross-complainant contended that the law firm committed fraud as to its claimed bankruptcy experience and breached its fiduciary duty by suing its client (defendant) for a legal fee using information it claimed was learned by the attorneys during the existence of the attorney-client relationship.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: Mutual walk-away. (Offered on several occasions.)

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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