Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Action for Attorney Fees: Proper Pleading

The Appellate Division, First Department, today reversed Supreme Court, New York County, and ordered the complaint dismissed in an action for unpaid attorney fees. Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP v. Carucci.

The law firm had sued a corporation and its president for legal fees, but the Appellate Division concluded that the complaint did not state a cause of action against the president because it failed to allege that he was personally responsible for the corporation's legal bills, or that he had retained the firm for himself and not the corporation. 

The decision lays out a useful road map for pleading a claim for unpaid attorney fees. The complaint must allege (1) the performance of services in good faith, (2) the acceptance of the services by the person to whom they are rendered, (3) the expectation of compensation for the services, and (4) the reasonable value of the services.  

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