Andersen, Tate & Carr partner Tyler Dillard tried a week-long jury trial in the Georgia State-Wide Business Court December 12 – 16, 2022. The trial was live-streamed on the internet and covered daily by Law360 legal news service.
Tyler represented a solo-practitioner law firm in a case against one of the firm’s former clients. The attorney had worked for the client for over five years, but the client failed to pay the attorney’s fees it owed at the successful completion of the client’s various legal proceedings. The challenge of the case was that the parties did not have a signed fee agreement establishing a specific hourly rate for the services provided. As such, the law firm’s claims were measured under the doctrine of quantum meruit, which aims to determine the reasonable value of the services provided.
During opening statements, Tyler told the jury that his client would be seeking total payment of $997,640 as the reasonable value of the services provided. During trial, the law firm relied upon the testimony of another attorney as an expert witness to establish the reasonable value of the services provided. Through cross-examination of various other witnesses, however, Tyler also established that many other lawyers working on the same legal proceedings were actually paid even higher rates than the opinion offered by the expert.
Meanwhile, the former Defendant client challenged every time entry and contended that they had been overbilled by the law firm. The Defendant also contended that the law firm had not provided valuable services and was not deserving of compensation. During closing arguments, Tyler told the jury that the evidence had shown that his client was actually entitled to more than the original $997,640 that had been requested at the start of trial, and Tyler asked the jury to consider adding an additional $1 in damages to demonstrate that the jury recognized what was fair.
After deliberating for less than 90 minutes, the jury returned a verdict of $1.15 million, which was over $152,000 more than Tyler and his client had initially requested at trial, and which was hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the amount for which Tyler’s client had initially been willing to accept to resolve the matter.