Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Franco v. Dugan

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

December 5, 2017

DAVID B. FRANCO
v.
JAMES R. DUGAN, II AND THE DUGAN LAW FIRM, APLC

         SECTION: "S" (2)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          MARY ANN VIAL LEMMON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion to Dismiss Pursuant to Rule 12(b)(3) filed by the defendants, James R. Dugan, II and the Dugan Law Firm, APLC (Doc. #12) is DENIED.

         IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to the Colorado River abstention doctrine, this matter is STAYED and ADMINISTRATIVELY CLOSED pending resolution of the related matter proceeding in the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, The Dugan Law Firm, APLC v. Damon J. Baldone, APLC d/b/a Damon J. Baldone and Associates, C/A No. 16-7376.

         BACKGROUND

         This matter is before the court on a motion to dismiss filed by defendants, James R. Dugan, II and The Dugan Law Firm, APLC (collectively, "Dugan"). Dugan argues that this matter should be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure because plaintiff's employment contract specifies that the proper venue for this action is the Civil District Court, Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana ("CDC"). Dugan also argues that there is already an action regarding plaintiff's compensation pending in the CDC and this court should defer to that litigation.

         Plaintiff, David B. Franco, filed this action against his former employer, Dugan, seeking to recover compensation to which he alleges he is entitled. Franco was hired by Dugan as an associate attorney in July 2010. Franco alleges that at the time he was hired his oral employment agreement included: a $75, 000 annual salary, plus benefits; a $5, 000 signing bonus; a 20% handler's fee on cases Franco handled for the firm, which would be split with other attorneys who also worked on the case; and, an additional 10% generator's fee for cases Franco brought to the law firm and worked on.

         Franco alleges that from July 2010 to June 2014, he worked for Dugan under the terms of the July 2010 oral employment contract. According to Franco, during this time he generated and worked on cases concerning the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill litigation, prescription drug co-pay subsidy litigation, and NFL concussion litigation. Franco alleges that all of the oil spill cases were signed up between July 2010 and June 2013; all of the drug co-pay subsidy cases were resolved prior to June 2014; and all of the NFL concussion cases were signed up in 2012 and 2013. Thus, Franco argues that he is owed handler's and generator's fees on those cases in accordance with the terms of the July 2010 employment agreement. Franco further alleges that in early 2014, he generated and worked on cases regarding the General Motors ignition switch recall. Franco claims that he is entitled to generator's and handler's fees in accordance with the July 2010 employment agreement for work done on cases that he brought to the Dugan firm and worked on prior to June 20, 2014.

         On June 20, 2014, Franco entered into a written employment agreement with Dugan. The terms of the June 2014 written employment agreement included: a $75, 000 annual salary; bonuses to be paid at Dugan's discretion in an amount not to exceed 20% of the fees paid to Dugan in connection with a particular case, which would be split with other attorneys who worked on the case in a manner deemed appropriate by Dugan; and, various benefits such as parking, bar dues, continuing legal education expenses, professional liability insurance, and health insurance. The June 2014 employment agreement provides for the application of Louisiana law to the construction and enforcement of the agreement, and includes a jurisdiction and venue provision that states:

Any suit involving a claim for compensation allegedly owed as a result of a matter pending in federal district court in the Eastern District of Louisiana may only be brought in that venue, if the federal court can exercise jurisdiction over the suit. Except for the foregoing, any suit involving any dispute or matter arising under this Agreement may only be brought in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, which shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the subject matter of the dispute.

         Further, the June 2014 employment agreement purports to contain "all of the terms of the agreement between the parties hereto relating to the subject matter hereof" and supersede "any and all [other] Agreements."

         Franco quit working for Dugan on July 31, 2016. On August 16, 2016, Dugan filed an amended petition in The Dugan Law Firm, APLC v. Damon J. Baldone, APLC d/b/a Damon J. Baldone and Associates, C/A No. 16-7376, litigation pending in the CDC to add Franco as a defendant. Dugan alleges that Franco breached the non-solicitation clause in the June 2014 employment agreement, interfered with and conspired to interfere with a professional services contract and committed conversion by contacting Dugan's clients in the BP oil spill and NFL concussion litigation and convincing them to discontinue Dugan's representation in favor of obtaining legal service from Franco.[1]

         The fee dispute between Dugan, Franco and Baldone was also part of the BP oil spill litigation pending before United States District Judge Barbier in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. Judge Barbier referred all of the BP oil spill fee disputes to United States Bankruptcy Judge Jerry A. Brown, who is serving as a Third-Party Claims Adjudicator. Franco filed a fee dispute regarding the BP oil spill litigation with Judge Brown. On January 27, 2017, Judge Brown issued an order in a fee dispute case titled Ernest Bellanger, Jr. v. The Dugan Law Firm, which also implicated the fee dispute between Dugan, Franco and Baldone. Judge Brown held:

2. The withheld attorneys fees at issue in this Dispute are subject to pending litigation in Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans ("the Civil District Court"), The Dugan Law Firm, APLC v. Damon J. Baldone, et al., No. 16-7376, which also involves other parties and attorney fees ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.