United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
D. ENGELHARDT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the Court are several motions relative to recovery of
attorney fees. See Rec. Docs. 68, 119, 134, 144 and
settlement of the plaintiffs' claims against the
defendants, and the cross-claim between Defendants Allstate
Insurance Company and Travelers Property Casualty Company of
America, only the attorney fees dispute between Intervenor
Silvestri& Massicot, LLC (S&M) and the Law Offices of
John Paul Massicot, LLC ("JPM") remains unresolved
in this matter. Specifically, S&M and JPM disagree
regarding the proper division amongst themselves amounts of
the attorney fees deposited into the registry of the Court by
Allstate and Travelers.
settled claims arose from a motor vehicle accident that
occurred on March 17, 2014, when vehicles driven by the now
deceased original plaintiff, Cyril Jones, and Defendant
Horace Spencer, collided. Shortly after the accident,
Attorney John Paul Massicot, in his capacity as a member of
S&M, commenced the instant action, asserting a personal
injury claim, on behalf of Mr. Jones. On or around March 7,
2016, however, Mr. Massicot formally withdrew from his
membership in S&M, and Mr. Jones terminated S&M's
services as its counsel of record. Thereafter, on March 17,
2016, JPM was substituted as Mr. Jones' counsel of
record. Having withdrawn as counsel of record, S&M filed
a motion on March 29, 2016, seeking to intervene in the
action for the purpose of asserting its entitlement to any
attorney fees payable to plaintiffs' counsel, relative to
the claim against Allstate, upon resolution of the lawsuit.
March 24, 2016, Mr. Jones died. Shortly thereafter, by motion
granted on June 7, 2016, Mr. Jones' surviving spouse and
three major children (the "Jones plaintiffs"), as
the survivors designated by Louisiana Civil Code article
2315.2, were substituted as plaintiffs relative to the
personal injury claims Mr. Jones had asserted. See
Rec. Doc. 64. At that time, the Jones plaintiffs also
formally added Travelers as a defendant, and asserted
wrongful death claims, pursuant to Article 2315.2 of the
Louisiana Civil Code, against the defendants. Id.
around May 26, 2016, Allstate deposited $45, 739.65 into the
Court's registry pending a final determination of to whom
the monies were payable, in connection with the
plaintiffs' settlement with Allstate as attorney's
fees, costs, and/or reimbursable expenses. Although some
disagreement exists with respect to the effective date of the
Allstate settlement, the settlement agreement between it and
the Jones plaintiffs is dated June 2, 2016. On October 6,
2016, Travelers deposited $240, 00.00 for the same purpose
following execution of its settlement agreement with the
Jones plaintiffs on September 8, 2016. See Rec.
Docs. 120 and 132.
previously stated, now before the Court are motions
concerning S&M's and JPM's competing claims to
the sums deposited into the registry of the Court by
Defendants Allstate and Travelers as payment for
plaintiffs' attorney fees. Having carefully reviewed the
opposing and supporting memoranda, the record in this matter,
and applicable law, the Court rules on the motions as
IS ORDERED that the "Motion of Silvestri & Massicot,
LLC to Withdraw Funds in the Registry of the Court"
(Rec. Doc. 68), addressing the $45, 739.65 deposited by
Allstate, is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Because it is not
apparent to the Court that the settlement with Allstate was
reached, and effective, prior to Mr. Jones' March 2016
discharge of S&M as his counsel of record in this matter,
S&M is not entitled to disbursement of the entirety of
the attorney fees and costs arising from the Allstate
settlement. Rather, JPM, as successive counsel of record for
Mr. Jones, and then for the Jones plaintiffs, is entitled to
a portion of that fee.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Jones plaintiffs'
"Motion to Dismiss Intervention and to Deny the Motion
to Intervene filed by Silvestri & Massicot, LLC"
(Rec. Doc. 119) is DENIED. Subsequent to the Jones
plaintiffs' motion being filed, the Court granted
S&M's motion to intervene relative to the
Traveler's settlement. See Rec. Docs. 130 and
131. Thus, the Jones plaintiffs' denial request is moot.
will the Court dismiss S&M's interventions simply
because Mr. Jones died prior to the Allstate and Travelers
settlements. Although a contract for legal services, as a
contract of mandate, terminates by operation of law upon the
death of the principal, Mr. Jones' death did not
automatically deprive S&M of any entitlement to a fee
award based on those settlements. Rather, the impact of Mr.
Jones' death is that the amounts of the Allstate and
Travelers fee awards to which S&M is entitled are
determined based on quantum meruit principles." See
Kinsey v. Dixon, 467 So.2d 862, at 864-65 (La. Ct. App.
2 Cir. 1985) ("A contract for legal services is a
contract of mandate which is terminated by operation of law
upon the death of the principal or mandatary.  Since the
contract is terminated, the cause of action is in quantum
meruit rather than in enforcement of the contract.").
"The phrase, quantum meruit, means as much as he
deserved." Id. at 865 (quoting Smith v.
Westside Transit Lines, Inc., 313 So.2d 371, 378
(La.App. 4th Cir.), writ denied, 318 So.2d 43 (La.
despite the quantum meruit basis of the award, the ultimate
amount of fees awarded is not necessarily precluded from
being the same maximum amount as the fee provided for in the
now terminated contract. Id. "On the contrary,
'the discharged attorney . . . may enforce the privilege
accorded him by R.S. 37:218 and recover whatever fee he has
earned which is not ...