Accounting for Law
Personal Injury

Appeal court ruling ensures client receives assessment

The Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision to have an injured appellant’s fee agreements with two law firms reassessed shows that the court felt a need to step in and ensure the client was not deprived of his right to an assessment, even though he urgently needed the money, Toronto personal injury lawyer Darryl Singer tells Legal Feeds.

Clatney v. Quinn Thiele Mineault Grodzki LLP centred around the 2013 settlement of a man's personal injury claim for $800,000, after he had been seriously injured in a 2008 crash, Legal Feeds reports.

The appellant originally pursued the claim with Bertschi Orth Solicitors and Barristers, but later switched to Quinn Thiele Moneault Grodzki LLP.

The first firm billed the man more than $117,000 for its work on the file, and the second firm initially told him it was owed more than $305,000, the article notes.

According to the ruling, the appellant ran into problems after asking for a release of $50,000 from his settlement, and ended up paying Quinn Thiele $210,000 and Bertschi Orth $100,000.

In the ruling, Justice Gloria Epstein said the appellant was “vulnerable” when he entered into the fee agreements with the firms, and “was permanently impaired by the brain injury he suffered in the car accident. He was under intense financial pressure. The appellant did not have independent legal advice when such was clearly called for. He expressed his dissatisfaction with the legal services rendered by both firms,” said the ruling.

The court ruled that all costs, fees, charges, and disbursements relating to the case be assessed and ordered $10,000 be paid to the appellant for costs of the initial application and $15,000 for the appeal, the article notes.

Singer, principal of Singer Barristers Professional Corporation, who was not involved in the case, tells Legal Feeds that, “It appears that the Thiel firm used the client’s financial desperation to extract a settlement for itself, and the appeal court appears to have felt that it needed to step in and ensure that the client was not deprived of his right to an assessment just because he was in dire need of the money.”

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