Varga v. Rent-A-Center East

Attorney Fees

New York Law Journal

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Magistrate Judge David Peebles

Varga was hurt in an April 29, 2010, accident. On May 8, 2010, she retained Benjamin, on a contingency fee basis, to represent her in her personal injury action against Rent-A-Center. She later discharged Benjamin and retained Finkelstein & Partners (F&P). Benjamin was repaid disbursements advanced on Varga's behalf. However, he and F&P left apportionment of attorney fees to be determined after Varga's lawsuit. Varga's action was settled on Oct. 5, 2012, for $2.3 million. Based on the settlement, and Varga's contingency fee arrangement with F&P, $741,698 in attorney fees were payable from the settlement. Benjamin's Oct. 29, 2012, letter with the court sought leave to file a motion to enforce a charging lien against the settlement proceeds pursuant to New York Judiciary Law §475. The court permitted the parties to the fee dispute to take limited discovery of evidence showing the relative measure of the work performed by Benjamin and F&P, and how that work affected the ultimate settlement. The record before the court was "woefully lacking" in information needed to apply the factors articulated in Lai Ling Cheng v. Modansky Leasing and Buchta v. Union-Endicott Cent. School Dist.

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