Phila. law firm sues former employee over unpaid referral fees

By Jon Campisi | Sep 28, 2012

A Philadelphia law firm has filed suit against a former employee over claims that the

defendant has failed to pay the plaintiff referral fees relating to personal injury cases taken on by the law firm that were subsequently referred to the defendant following his termination.

Patrick G. Geckle LLC, a law firm located on Walnut Street in Center City, is suing attorney John Rightmyer, who residents in Northwest Philadelphia, over allegations that Rightmyer has failed to pay the firm referral fees stemming from two personal injury cases that the defendant handled only after being referred the work by the plaintiff.

The lawsuit, which was filed Sept. 24 at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by Philadelphia attorney Alan M. Feldman, states that Rightmyer was employed by Patrick G. Geckle LLC from Sept. 1, 2003 until June 5, 2011, at which time the plaintiff ended its employment relationship with the defendant for reasons that aren't specified in the suit.

During the time Rightmyer worked for the firm, he handled a variety of personal injury claims and civil rights cases for clients retained by the plaintiff.

At the time of his termination, Rightmyer was referred several cases by the law firm, the complaint states, cases that involved clients who had retained the law firm to represent them prior to the referral to Rightmyer.

In return for the referral of those cases, the suit states, Rightmyer signed a written agreement promising to pay a referral fee and reimburse Patrick G. Geckle LLC for costs expended prior to the referral.

Among the case files that were referred to the defendant were Ndrea v. City of Philadelphia and Berthau v. City of Philadelphia.

In the first case, Rightmyer agreed to pay the law firm a referral fee of one-third of any and all attorney’s fees earned by the defendant in connection with his handling of the case, together with reimbursement costs, and in the second case Rightmyer promised to pay a referral fee of 20 percent of any and all attorney’s fees earned during the course of his work on the case, the lawsuit states.

“Patrick G. Geckle LLC engaged in substantial work and expended costs on both the Ndrea matter and the Berthau matter before those cases were referred to Defendant Rightmyer,” the lawsuit states.

The Ndrea case ended up settling in late February of this year for $29,000 while the Berthau case settled for $400,000 on April 5, the suit shows.

Despite the fact that Rightmyer has received the settlement funds in both of those cases, he has yet to pay the previously agreed upon referral fees to the plaintiff, the lawsuit states.

The suit accuses Rightmyer of breach of contract, conversion and unjust enrichment.

For each of the three counts listed, the plaintiff seeks judgment in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs, attorney’s fees and unspecified punitive damages.


The case ID number is 120902794. 

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