MIAMI – A Philadelphia law firm has been named as a defendant in a Florida firm’s lawsuit resulting from a dispute over distribution of legal fees in a separate case.

Zebersky Payne of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. first filed suit in the Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Circuit in Broward County, Fla. (a case later transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida), against Aughtman Law Firm of Montgomery, Ala., Golomb & Honik of Philadelphia, Hemmings & Stevens of Raleigh, N.C. and Burlington & Rockenbach of West Palm Beach, Fla.

According to the plaintiff, on Jan. 4, 2012, the parties agreed to a Joint Prosecution Agreement (“JPA”) that provided Zebersky’s entitlement to 17.5 percent of the fee in the HealthExtras litigation, and the agreement relates to the prosecution of claims arising from the sale of the HealthExtras insurance product nationwide.

“The parties are locked in a dispute as to the amount of fees due and owing to Zebersky. It is the defendants’ position that this matter is subject to another Joint Prosecution Agreement signed in May 2014. Zebersky disputes that the 2014 JPA (“JPA II”) applies to his dispute related to fees owing on a nationwide basis or to any dispute with Golomb,” the suit explains.

“There is also a third agreement between Zebersky, Aughtman, Hemmings and Burlington related to the Florida HealthExtras matter and there is a dispute as to how much is owed to Burlington for its involvement in this matter and Zebersky is unsure whether with Burlington must be arbitrated,” the suit says.

According to Richard Golomb, founding partner of Golomb & Honik, Zebersky Payne began litigation after being the only firm among 17 to reject its fee distribution proposal.

“We were co-lead counsel in a multi-state consumer class action in Florida. After years of litigation, the case was settled and went through the preliminary and final approval process. That process included the appointment of the three firms as class counsel, who had the court-appointed duty to distribute the approved fee between 17 firms. We did so; 16 of 17 firms accepted our distribution proposal. Zebersky did not, and sued,” Golomb stated.

The plaintiff is now seeking declaratory relief comprised of the JPA being binding on all parties; the JPA II not being binding on Zebersky either in part or in total; the JPA II not being binding on the relationship between Zebersky and Golomb & Honik; the amount that is owed to Burlington; and a determination of the proper amount owed to Zebersky under the JPA or any other agreement by each of the defendants either jointly or severally, in this matter. It is believed the amount in controversy exceeds $15,000.00, exclusive of all attorney’s fees and costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Edward Herbert Zebersky and Todd S. Payne of Zebersky Payne, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

The defendants are represented by Jeffrey Carl Weinstein of Mittenthal Weinstein, in Delray Beach, Fla.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida case 0:17-cv-61170

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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