United States District Court, D. Nevada
ORDER (DOCKET NO. 33)
J. KOPPE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is Richard Harris Law Firm, LLP's
(“RHLF”) motion to adjudicate attorney's
lien. Docket No. 33. Plaintiff filed a response in
opposition. Docket No. 37. RHLF filed a reply. Docket No. 41.
April 2, 2015, Plaintiff, now deceased, hired RHLF to
represent him in an automobile accident. Docket No. 33 at 2.
Plaintiff signed a retainer agreement on a contingency fee
basis and agreed, if he had discharged RHLF prior to the end
of the case, to pay a pro rata share of the total
attorneys' fees, 33 1/3 % of the last settlement offer
(40% after initiation of a lawsuit), or “$1, 000 per
hour for all attorney and staff time, whichever is
more.” Id. at 5.
April 14, 2016, Plaintiff terminated RHLF's
representation. Id. at 2. On May 20, 2016, RHLF
served a notice of claim of attorney's lien by certified
mail on Plaintiff's new counsel, Gerald F. Neal, Ocean
Harbor Casualty Insurance Company, and Progressive Insurance.
Id. RHLF unsuccessfully attempted to serve the
notice by certified mail on Plaintiff. Docket Nos. 33-4 at 7,
33-5 at 1.
November 14, 2016, Mr. Neal notified RHLF that he was no
longer Plaintiff's counsel. Docket No. 33-3. On December
22, 2016, RHLF served a notice of claim of attorney's
lien by certified mail on Plaintiff's new counsel, Trevor
Quirk. Docket No. 33-6. On August 2, 2017, RHLF served a
notice of claim of attorney's lien by certified mail on
Plaintiff's newest counsel, Michael D. McLachlan. Docket
No. 33-7. RHLF attempted to serve the notice by certified
mail on Plaintiff but was notified by the returned mailing
that Plaintiff was deceased. Id. at 1; see
also Docket no. 33-8.
the course of RHLF's representation of Plaintiff, RHLF
obtained medical payments and insurance payments from
Progressive Insurance on behalf of Plaintiff. Docket No. 33
at 2. RHLF continued to work on Plaintiff's underinsured
motorist claim against Ocean Harbor Casualty Insurance
Company and Progressive Insurance until Plaintiff terminated
RHLF's representation. Id. In April 2017, RHLF
sent $8, 981.82 of the remaining funds from Plaintiff's
first settlement to Plaintiff's counsel, Mr. McLachlan,
but was unable to resolve its outstanding attorney's lien
with Mr. McLachlan. Id. at 3. Through the pending
motion, RHLF seeks payment of $33, 400 in fees based on
quantum meruit for the work it performed on
Plaintiff's underinsured motorist claim prior to its
discharge. Docket Nos. 33 at 3, 33-9.
recognizes two types of attorney's liens. See,
e.g., Newstar Chemicals (M) SDN BHD v. Megola,
Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 135945, at *4 (D. Nev. Sept.
21, 2012) (citation omitted); see also Figliuzzi v. Eigth
Judicial Dist. Court In and For Cty. of Clark, 890 P.2d
789, 801 (Nev. 1995). The first is “a special or
charging lien, ” which provides a lien on “the
judgment or settlement [that] the attorney has obtained for
the client.” The second is a “retaining lien,
” which allows an attorney that has been terminated by
the client to withhold the client's file, documents, and
other property “until the court, at the request or
consent of the client, adjudicates the client's rights
and obligations” and orders the attorney to return the
items to the client upon payment of attorneys' fees.
Newstar Chemicals (M) SDN BHD, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
135945, at *4.
Revised Statute § 18.015 also provides guidance on the
two types of attorney's liens:
1. An attorney at law shall have a lien:
(a) Upon any claim, demand or cause of action, including any
claim for unliquidated damages, which has been placed in the
attorney's hands by a client for suit or collection, or
upon which a suit or other action has been instituted.
(b) In any civil action, upon any file or other property
properly left in the possession of the attorney by a client.
2. A lien pursuant to subsection 1 is for the amount of any
fee which has been agreed upon by the attorney and client. In
the absence of an agreement, the lien is for a reasonable fee
for the services ...