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Attorney Fee-Splitting Agreement Violated Ethics Rules, Plus Bankruptcy, Civil Procedure and Employment Matters

By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on July 09, 2010 4:56 PM

Eng v. Cummings, McClorey, Davis & Acho, No. 09-2426, concerned a declaratory judgment action against a law firm seeking a judgment that plaintiff firm need not share a portion of the attorney's fees awarded to plaintiff in a personal injury action.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for plaintiff on the ground that, even assuming there was a fee-splitting agreement between the parties, this agreement did not comply with Mo. Sup. Ct. R. 4-1.5(e).

Gillette v. N. Dakota Disciplinary Bd., No. 09-1598, involved an action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief preventing an attorney disciplinary board from prosecuting a disciplinary action for alleged misconduct arising out of plaintiff's representation of Native American clients in tribal court litigation.  The court of appeals affirmed the dismissal of the action on the grounds that the three prerequisites to Younger abstention were present in this case -- (1) an ongoing state judicial proceeding that (2) implicates an important state interest and (3) affords an adequate opportunity to raise federal statutory and constitutional challenges.

In re: Polaroid Corp., No. 09-2860, concerned a creditor's appeal of the bankruptcy court's approval of the debtor's sale, free and clear of any liens, of its assets.  The Second Circuit dismissed the appeal on the ground that no party obtained a stay of the sale pending appeal, and thus the appeal was moot.

True v. State of Neb., No. 09-1788, involved an action challenging the termination of plaintiff's employment at a Nebraska correctional facility because he refused to allow a random, suspicionless search of his vehicle.  The court of appeals affirmed summary judgment for defendants in part, on the ground that, even assuming that employees parking in the lot at issue were similarly situated to visitors parking there, differential treatment of the two groups was, however, rationally related to a legitimate state interest.  However, the court reversed in part, holding that there was a dispute as to the circumstances of inmate access to vehicles in the lot at issue -- facts material to the reasonableness of the search at its inception.

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