The Second Department determined Supreme Court should not have ruled that an attorney was not discharged for cause, thereby entitling the attorney to attorneys fees, without a hearing, because there was conflicting evidence on the issue. The court explained when an attorney who has been discharged is entitled to attorneys fees:
A client has “an absolute right, at any time, with or without cause, to terminate the attorney-client relationship by discharging the attorney” … . Where the discharge is without cause, the attorney may recover the reasonable value of his or her services in quantum meruit … . In contrast, “[a]n attorney who is discharged for cause . . . is not entitled to compensation or a lien” … . An attorney who violates a disciplinary rule may be discharged for cause and is not entitled to fees for any services rendered … .
“Where there are conflicting claims as to . . . whether an outgoing attorney was discharged with or without cause, a hearing is necessary to resolve such dispute”… . Schultz v Hughes, 2013 NY slip Op 05891, 2nd Dept 9-18-13