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February 2016

Gordon & Rees Denver Team Secures Summary Judgment in Legal Malpractice Action

Gordon & Rees Denver attorneys Heather Kelly and Greg Hearing recently secured summary judgment on behalf of their client, a well-known Colorado trial attorney. 

Gordon & Rees’s client served as co-counsel and represented the Plaintiff in an underlying personal injury action stemming from two separate car accidents.  The client secured a settlement with one of the underlying defendants prior to trial.  Shortly thereafter, the Plaintiff’s claims against the second defendant were tried. Despite numerous causation and damages issues, the client secured a judgment that totaled approximately $1 million inclusive of costs and prejudgment interest.  The judgment was appealed and affirmed.  A dispute subsequently arose between the Plaintiff and his attorneys regarding the distribution of the settlement proceeds and the costs and fees the attorneys were entitled to following trial.  The trial court conducted three separate hearings on that matter and ultimately issued an order partially reducing the attorneys’ fee.  

The Plaintiff then filed a separate legal malpractice action alleging that his attorneys had improperly distributed settlement proceeds and violated various ethical obligations.  The Plaintiff sought recovery of the fees paid in the underlying dispute and a variety of other damages.  Following the close of discovery and the deposition of the Plaintiff, Gordon & Rees filed multiple motions for summary judgment including a motion attacking the Plaintiff’s lack of causation and damages relating to the underlying fee dispute.  Regarding causation, Gordon & Rees argued that, regardless of the allegations of improper distribution of settlement proceeds, Plaintiff could not prove that he would have received a greater award in the underlying case since the fee awarded to the attorneys was less than a standard contingency fee.  The Court granted Gordon & Rees’s client summary judgment due to lack of causation.  Following the Court’s grant of summary judgment, the court awarded Gordon & Rees’s client their costs.

Greg S. Hearing