The Florida Bar

January 18, 1962

In a dispute with a subrogated insurer about the value of his services for recovering the subrogee's claim along with the plaintiff's, a lawyer is acting in a perfectly ethical manner in tendering the money into the court with a request for judicial determination of the fee.

Canons: 12, 13, 14

Chairman Holcomb stated the opinion of the committee:

The Committee on Professional Ethics of The Florida Bar has considered a question of a member of The Florida Bar in which he states that he represented a plaintiff in a personal injury from an automobile accident and during the proceedings the subrogation insurance carrier requested the inclusion of its claim for property damage. This was added with the consent of the client. Judgment was rendered in favor of his client for $20,000 and two checks were received by him, one payable to him and the client and the other to him, the client and the insuror for $1,700, being the amount of the claim. This latter check was endorsed by his client and he informed the insurance carrier of this fact and that upon its endorsement he would deduct his fees and costs and remit the balance. Whereupon the insurance carrier offered him $150 in full payment of his services. He requested a fee of twenty-five percent of the recovery, which was refused, and he then filed suit in equity and tendered the check into the registry of the court, requesting the court to determine the proper fee.

He states that he has been contacted by attorneys for the insurance carrier, who stated that their client requested them to offer vigorous defense to his claim and further asked them to initiate grievance committee proceedings against him before The Florida Bar.

In our opinion, he has acted in a perfectly ethical manner and the requested fee and actions have been proper in view of Canons 12, 13 and 14. We feel that he is entirely within his rights in retaining the check and demanding twenty-five percent thereof as his fee.

[Revised: 08-24-2011]