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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Mar 31, 2015

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

William R. Bruce, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellant, Janice Bunch.

Attorneys 2:

Jeremy G. Alpert, Memphis, Tennessee, for the appellees, Oscar C. Carr, III and Glankler Brown, PLLC.


This is an appeal from an award of attorney?s fees following settlement of the underlying lawsuit. Appellees, law firm and attorney, represented Appellant in a lawsuit arising from an automobile accident. After protracted mediation, Appellee orally agreed to lower its contingency fee from 33 1/3% to 10% in consideration of Appellant?s agreement to settle her case against the tort defendants for $52,000. Appellant agreed to accept this offer and signed the settlement agreement at the conclusion of the mediation. Thereafter, Appellant allegedly refused to sign the releases drafted by the tort defendants. The trial court, upon the tort defendants? motion, enforced the settlement agreement reached by the parties at mediation. Appellees assert that Appellant?s refusal to sign the releases drafted by the tort defendants constitutes a breach of the modified fee agreement and now seek to enforce an attorney?s fee lien for the full one-third of the recovery. The trial court granted Appellees? motion to enforce its lien for the full amount, and Appellant appeals. We conclude that the terms of the modified fee agreement between Appellees and Appellant only required Appellant to settle her case with the tort defendants for $52,000, which she did. Accordingly, the trial court erred in not enforcing the modified fee agreement. Reversed in part, affirmed in part, and remanded.