The Appellate Court covering Brooklyn released a decision today upholding the denial of a motion by an attorney who won a medical malpractice trial but believed he was entitled to more than the retainer agreement provided. The Morelli Law Firm represented a client in a successful medical malpractice action over 7 years long, in which the firm had earned a fee of $376,198 for 970 hours of work including 9 days of trial. The Court did not believe that $387 per hour constituted an unfair exceptionally low hourly rate.
Medical malpractice contingency agreements in New York follow maximum terms of compensation that cannot be changed -even if the client agrees. You must get Court permission to increase the attorney's percentage. The Office of Court Administration has set forth a sliding scale schedule of percentages for medical malpractice lawsuits which are far less lucrative than the typical personal injury one-third percentage.
In medical malpractice actions the attorney is only entitled to 30% on the first $250,000 recovered; 25% of the next $250,000 recovered; 20% of the amount recovered between $500,000 and $1,000,000; 15% of the amount recovered between $1,000,000 and $1,250,000; and, 10% of any amounts recovered above $1,250,000. However, if the attorney can show that the net result was an "exceptionally low hourly rate of compensation, or that it caused the law firm any financial detriment" the attorney can apply to the court for a greater amount if there are extraordinary circumstances. 2017 WL 4930857