California attorney Patricia Meyer has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a former Chadbourne & Parke client alleging overcharging of fees related to legal research. The complaint alleges unfair business practices, unjust enrichment, fraud and deceit.
Former client J. Virgil Waggoner retained the Chadbourne law firm in 2002. His bill totaled $108,000.00, of which $20,000 was for legal research related to his matter. Ms. Meyer claims the research should have been only about $5000. The lawsuit alleges that Chadbourne billed Waggoner for research on an hourly basis, while paying the research on a flat fee basis.
Ms Meyer states that the practice of profiting from costs, without disclosing the practice in the client retainer agreement violates rules of professional conduct set forth by the California and American bar associations. There was no such disclosure made to Mr. Waggoner.
In a statement, Chadbourne partner Thomas Hall paints a different picture: “We adamantly deny this claim of Mr. Waggoner, with whom we ended our relationship over four years ago. It is telling that Mr. Waggoner — a Texan who had retained our New York, not California, office — filed suit in California only after his New York malpractice lawsuit against Chadbourne was dismissed and only after we sued him in New York for unpaid fees.”
Ms. Meyer said the reason the lawsuit was filed on March 2, but not served on Chadbourne & Parke until May 1 is because she did not want to compromise other investigations alleging similar claims. She went on to say that similar lawsuits are in the pipeline, and she has evidence that shows at least a dozen other law firms are overcharging clients for legal research.
If you or your business have been treated unethically by any licensed professional (lawyer, CPA, etc.) contact Richard Oppenheim at 818-461-8500 or by email. There is never a charge for an initial consultation.