Fee dispute between law firm and client results in counter-claim; $146K. Orange County.
Law firm sues for its fees; client countersues firm for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.
- 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, LLPCross 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 SettlementCross defendant – Daniel WildishCross defendant – Bohm Wildish, LLP
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- 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
- 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.
- 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.)