Bonnaig v. Nuñez

Attorney Fees

New York Law Journal

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District Judge Harold Baer

Under a contingency agreement, New York lawyer Bonnaig represented Massachusetts-resident Nuñez in his state court retaliation suit against former employer Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). In addition to drafting and filing the complaint, Bonnaig engaged in discovery, successfully opposed a summary judgment motion and prepared for trial before the judge granted her withdrawal due to irreconcilable differences after finding Nuñez an uncooperative client. Nuñez and FIT later settled the suit without monetary recovery. State court dismissed the action and denied Bonnaig a charging lien. Bonnaig's quantum meruit action, under district court's diversity jurisdiction, sought $156,623 plus prejudgment interest. District court granted Bonnaig summary judgment. However, reducing her time charges by one-half, the court awarded Bonnaig $80,061 plus prejudgment interest. Case law supported Bonnaig's assertion that because she withdrew for cause, quantum meruit was available even if representation had been under a contingency agreement. Citing Balestriere v. BanxCorp, district court observed that the state court's denial of Bonnaig's motion for a charging lien had no bearing on her quantum meruit action.

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