This is the latest column in our continuing series on real mistakes and misdeeds by real lawyers in cases on appeal.
Callahan & Blaine v. Volger, 2019 WL 3311722 (Cal. Ct. App. 4th Dist. July 24, 2019) (unpublished)
This case offers an abject lesson on the potential consequences of forgoing a reply brief. Silence may mean concession to the appellate court.
The case involved a contract dispute for failure to pay attorney fees and costs owed. A law firm originally represented an insured in a suit against its insurer for water damage. After litigating the case for over a year, the firm withdrew due to a conflict of interest. The insured acknowledged a debt of $114,000 for fees and costs, and the firm filed a notice of lien. Under successor counsel, the case settled for $1.5 million. To obtain a release of the firm’s lien, which the insurance company required, the insured and successor counsel entered into an agreement to pay the original law firm $82,000 from the insurance settlement. When successor counsel later refused to pay, the firm sued for breach of contract. The trial court awarded summary judgment to the firm.