PHILADELPHIA – A Colorado law firm has hit back at claims it owes Philadelphia-based Blank Rome nearly $500,000 in legal fees for its work in a 2012 pelvic mesh settlement, saying the Pennsylvania firm is misstating the agreement between the two groups.
On Jan. 14, the firm of Andrus Wagstaff filed a response to the litigation filed by Blank Rome, in which it denies the latter’s claims and asserts the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction (including a portion connected to the Declaratory Judgment Act), labeling Blank Rome’s interpretation of the fee distribution a “misstatement” of the contract it wrote.
“It would be absurd for Blank Rome to collect according to the formula that it now advances,” the response read, in part. “Blank Rome’s reading of the engagement letter is at odds with what it wrote.”
Andrus Wagstaff contends Blank Rome’s argument would result in excessive fees precluded by the Pennsylvania Rules for Professional Conduct, would lead to unjust enrichment towards Blank Rome at the expense of Andrus Wagstaff and its clients and is contrary to the agreement entered into by both parties.
Blank Rome of Philadelphia initially filed a complaint on Dec. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, against Andrus Wagstaff of Lakewood, Colo.
Blank Rome alleged in its complaint that the firm is owed a performance incentive fee of $489,500 for representing Andrus Wagstaff in a dispute regarding “allocation of common benefit attorney’s fees” in a 2012 multi-district pelvic mesh case, which was settled in a West Virginia federal court in November 2018.
Through its legal services, Blank Rome alleged it “negotiated an increase” of more than $4,895,000 in Andrus Wagstaff’s common benefit attorney fee award for the case – and per the terms of their agreement governing increases and contingency fees, Blank Rome said it was due to receive 10 percent of that $4.895 million increase.
For counts of declaratory judgment and breach of contract, the plaintiff seeks monetary relief of $489,500, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorney’s fees and costs, all other just relief and a trial by jury.
The plaintiff is represented by Frank Dante of Blank Rome, in Philadelphia.
The defendant is represented by Andrew A. Chirls of Fineman Krekstein & Harris, also in Philadelphia.
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania case 2:19-cv-05909
From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org