Failure to File Retainer Agreement In Medical Malpractice Action Remedied Nunc Pro Tunc
The Second Department determined Supreme Court correctly granted leave to file a retainer agreement in a medical malpractice action, nunc pro tunc. The attorney (Siegel) was the second attorney retained in the matter (to handle the trial). After the case settled, the second attorney sued the first (Glassman) over the amount of the fee. The second attorney (Siegel) , however, had not filed a retainer agreement and made a motion to file late:
Every attorney practicing law in the Second Judicial Department who is retained with respect to, inter alia, a medical malpractice action must file a retainer statement with the OCA within 30 days after being retained … . Additionally, every “attorney retained by another attorney, on a contingent fee basis, as trial or appeal counsel or to assist in the preparation, investigation, adjustment or settlement of any such action, claim or proceeding shall, within 15 days from the date of such retainer, sign personally and file with the [OCA] a written statement of such retainer” (22 NYCRR 691.20[a]). Filing a retainer statement with the OCA is a condition precedent to the receipt of a fee for any case to which 22 NYCRR 691.20 applies … . Attorneys failing to correctly file a retainer statement with the OCA pursuant to 22 NYCRR 691.20 are precluded from asserting breach of contract causes of action for outstanding fees, and are limited to suit in quantum meruit … . However, a late filing of a retainer statement is sufficient to preserve an attorney’s right to recover fees where that attorney first obtains leave of court to file the statement nunc pro tunc … .
In exercising its discretion to extend the time to file the subject retainer statement pursuant to CPLR 2004, a court may consider such factors as the length of the delay, the reason or excuse for the delay, and any prejudice to the person opposing the motion … . Here, the reason for the delay, in effect, Siegel’s law office failure, was an isolated, inadvertent mistake … and there is no prejudice to Glassman… . Siracusa v Fitterman, 2013 NY slip Op 07025, 2nd Dept 10-30-13