HARRISBURG – Law firm Fine & Wyatt PC is seeking payment of $7,500 in legal fees it allegedly negotiated in a payment compromise with clients who elected to switch to a different firm.
Fine & Wyatt also filed a motion on Feb. 19 with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania that asks the court to remand the case back to the Court of Common Pleas of Wayne County, where the firm originally filed it on Jan. 4. The case was removed to the district court by defendant John. F. Hector based on diversity jurisdiction, Hector said in a Feb. 9 letter to the court.
According to the petition for attorneys fees filed with the Wayne County court Jan. 4, Fine & Wyatt was hired by Brad and Donna Marchesin, “individually and as legal guardians of Todd Bianchi,” after Brad Marchesin and Bianchi were injured in a March 18, 2012, motorcycle accident in Wayne County. The accident allegedly occurred when another driver, Ida Campfield, swerved into oncoming traffic and hit Marchesin’s motorcycle head-on.
“As a result of the aforementioned accident, both Brad Marchesin and the minor child, Todd Bianchi, were thrown from the motorcycle and suffered severe, debilitating and permanent injuries,” the lawsuit said.
After being hired by the Marchesins on a contingency fee basis, Fine & Wyatt said in the lawsuit that they “procured written tenders of $25,000 for Brad Marchesin and $25,000 for Todd Bianchi from Mrs. Campfield’s auto insurance carrier.” These amounts coincide with the maximum payouts allowed under Campfield's and Brad Marchesin’s insurance policies, the suit states.
Fine & Wyatt said the Marchesins chose to terminate the firm as their attorneys in the Campfield case on Dec. 4, 2012, “after procuring the aforesaid tenders and before the policy limits could be paid.” The Marchesins eventually hired Howard Rothenberg and Associates as their new attorneys for the Campfield case on Aug. 15, 2014.
“The Marchesins, by discharging the petitioner prior to the collection of the tender of policy limits as outlined…in the amount of $50,000, prevented this petitioner from receiving its one-third contingency fee of the sum of $50,000, or $16,665,” the firm said in the petition.
Fine & Wyatt also alleged that it was owed $652.50 in costs, for a total $17,317.50, for the work the firm’s attorneys did for the Marchesins before the agreement was terminated.
Following negotiations with Hector, Fine & Wyatt said in the petition that it agreed to accept $7,500 from the Marchesins in settlement of the full amount owed.
However, according to the lawsuit, “despite demand, no monies whatsoever have been paid to the petitioner either by the Marchesin family or by respondent Hector.”
As a result, Fine & Wyatt is asking the court to order the Marchesins or Hector to immediately pay the $7,500 agreed upon fee amount, the petition said.
In addition, the firm said the case should be remanded to the Wayne County court because the amount sought in the lawsuit does not meet the $75,000 minimum required for removal.