Shapiro, Arato & Isserles Wins First Department Reversal of Unjust Enrichment Verdict

On April 24, 2014, the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division, First Department reversed a jury verdict for unjust enrichment against our client, Elan Padeh. Mr. Padeh was sued by the law firm that previously represented him on a contingency basis in an action Mr. Padeh brought against his former employer. After several years of protracted litigation, Mr. Padeh agreed to settle his claims against his former employer for an amount the law firm believed to be too low. The law firm filed suit against Mr. Padeh, alleging that the percentage of the settlement amount specified in its retainer agreement did not fully compensate the firm for its services. The jury found that Mr. Padeh was unjustly enriched as a result of the law firm’s services and awarded damages of over $170,000. On appeal, the First Department agreed with our arguments that the terms of the written retainer agreement fixed the amount of the law firm’s compensation and precluded an unjust enrichment claim. And it rejected the law firm’s arguments that Padeh had somehow “abandoned” the case, or discharged the firm, simply by settling the case without its consent. The Court reversed the jury’s unjust enrichment award and dismissed the claim.

Marc E. Isserlesargued the appeal. Mr. Isserles, Alexandra A.E. Shapiro, and James Darrowauthored the briefs.