POULAS v. Ginsberg & Broome, P.C., Nonparty Appellant.

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Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York.

Wendy POULAS, Plaintiff, v. JAMES LENOX HOUSE, INC., et al., Defendants. Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, Nonparty Respondent, Ginsberg & Broome, P.C., Nonparty Appellant.

Decided: October 19, 2004

TOM, J.P., LERNER, FRIEDMAN, MARLOW, GONZALEZ, JJ. Ginsberg & Broome, P.C., New York (Robert M. Ginsberg of counsel), for appellant. Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, New York (Diane Paolicelli of counsel), for respondent.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Edward Lehner, J.), entered January 13, 2004, which confirmed an order of the Special Referee directing nonparty respondent Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP to pay nonparty appellant Ginsberg & Broome, P.C. $10,333.33 as its share of the contingent attorney fee award paid pursuant to the settlement of this action, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

The motion court properly exercised its discretion in confirming the Special Referee's findings that the minimal work performed by the outgoing law firm Ginsberg & Broome, P.C. in the prosecution of the plaintiff's personal injury claim entitled it to only a thirtieth of the total contingency fees paid based on the settlement obtained for plaintiff.   The outgoing firm merely filed and served a three-page summons and complaint in the action and obtained some medical records during the eleven months it served as plaintiff's attorney.   The incoming firm, Levy, Phillips & Konigsberg, LLP, by contrast, inter alia, responded to defendants' discovery requests, conducted approximately ten depositions, retained experts on liability and damages, conducted voir dire, engaged in settlement negotiations and secured a highly favorable settlement for plaintiff, whose injuries, although serious, were difficult to establish clinically (see Matter of Haywoode v. Frost & Berenholtz, 225 A.D.2d 420, 640 N.Y.S.2d 484 [1996] ).