Here at Martin and Wallentine, we ensure that our contingency contracts are always signed and agreed upon before starting a case. Our personal injury (P.I.) contingency contracts clarify how the fees are computed when a settlement or judgment is disbursed. This document is then signed and completed by our clients, guaranteeing that our client knows exactly what will be paid and how it will be covered. For our P.I. cases, our attorneys have extremely important consultations where they discuss the conditions needed in order to take on a case. By completing these steps prior to working on a case, our firm establishes expectations right at the very beginning.
This is important because if there are any terms not agreed upon and explicitly stated, clients can be confused by the jargon and large sums of money being thrown their way. This can lead to a case similar to the Alan Kane case, which will be discussed further throughout this article. I would like to stress the importance of establishing our expectations early on, making certain that there is no miscommunication between our attorneys and our clients.
A lawyer in Pennsylvania, Alan Kane, has had his license suspended by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. It was reported that Kane did not thoroughly explain a contractual payment that was set in place, trying to exploit the confusion of his client. The vague explanation he gave his client was all in order to increase his earnings, monopolizing her ignorance of the situation. His suspension is to last one year and one day, starting on April 4th, 2023. The state Disciplinary Board and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court were in agreement regarding his punishment, saying that his behavior was dishonest and deceitful. The Report and Recommendations of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania states, “the Committee concluded that Petitioner met its burden of proof to establish that Respondent violated Rules of Professional Conduct” (PA Courts, 2023).
Alan Kane is 58 years old, born in 1965. He attended Pennsylvania State University where he received his bachelor’s in science. He went to Widener University, J.D., for law school and was admitted to the bar in 1992. During his years practicing law, he has practiced in a multitude of areas; taxation, probate, contracts, business law, estate planning, and ethics and professional responsibility.
Alan Kane was contacted by a woman named Deborah Logoyoda in January 2017. Logoyoda was seeking legal representation for a lawsuit in which she wanted financial compensation from where she used to work, Elwyn Pharmacy. In August 2017, Kane wrote up an engagement contract for Ms. Logoyoda. This contract stated that Kane would collect $3,000.33 and ⅓ percent more of the gross compensation that they won in the lawsuit. Over the next two years, Mr. Kane would go back and forth with Elwyn – trading many settlement offers between each other. A beginning offer of $14,600 was presented by Elwyn, but was quickly countered by offers as large as $115,000.
While Kane and Elwyn were negotiating settlements, Logoyoda was given numerous different options for what Mr. Kane wanted for his attorney fees. All of the numbers presented confused Logoyoda, keeping her from making a truly informed decision on which settlement offer was the most beneficial. After some time, Elwyn, Kane, and Logoyoda still could not come to an agreement. Kane relayed the negotiations to Ms. Logoyoda, telling her that an offer of $75,000 would be best. However, in this offer, Kane would receive $50,000 and Logoyoda would only receive $25,000. This was rejected by both the pharmacy and Logoyoda, and a counteroffer of $60,000 was sent by Elwyn.
The $60,000 offer was accepted by Logoyoda, but issues were soon to arise after Kane attempted to discuss attorney fees. The Report and Recommendations of the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania states that after an argument, “In frustration, Ms. Logoyda stated to Respondent, ‘Just take it all.’ N.T. 61. While Ms. Logoyda stated these words, this was not and never was her intent” (PA Courts, 2023). She also told the Court that she did not want to sign the settlement agreement because she didn’t trust Kane to have access to the settlement money (PA Courts, 2023). The situation further escalated when Kane threatened to take the issue to debt collections, forcing Logoyoda’s hand in one way or another. The $60,000 was soon placed in an escrow account, and it is not yet verified whether or not the money has been properly disbursed.
After much deliberation, the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania decided that the fault was on Mr. Kane. This is because he did not thoroughly and explicitly explain the payment that he would receive for attorney fees, changing the amount with every offer that was made. The report states, “Respondent acknowledged no wrongdoing and expressed no remorse or regret for his actions that caused harm to his client” (PA Courts, 2023). Kane was unapologetic for the emotional turmoil Ms. Logoyoda experienced during his years representing her. Due to his misconduct, the Court sentenced him to one year and one day of suspension. They stressed that Kane, “failed to communicate effectively with his client in terms she could understand, and failed to provide his client with an objective view of her case to assist her in evaluating fair settlement offers and making informed decisions” (PA Courts, 2023).
Again I reiterate, this is why contingency contracts are so imperative to the legal process for P.I. cases – especially when settlements are involved. Here are some explicit reasons why these contracts are so important;
Provides accountability: By outlining specific consequences for certain behaviors or events, a contingency contract provides accountability for individuals. This can help to ensure that they follow through on their commitments and work towards their goals.
Increases motivation: The consequences outlined in a contingency contract can serve as a powerful motivator for individuals. Knowing that there are specific rewards or consequences for their actions can help to increase their motivation to achieve the set goals.
Helps to clarify expectations: A contingency contract outlines the expectations for behavior and outcomes. This can help ensure that everyone involved is on the same page and working toward the same goals.
Encourages communication: Creating a contingency contract requires communication between all parties involved. This can encourage open and honest communication about goals, expectations, and concerns.
In the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania - Pacourts.us. https://www.pacourts.us/assets/opinions/DisciplinaryBoard/out/77DB2021-Kane.pdf.