I will start by saying this is for a friend of mine that is in desperate need of help, I feel. Possibly everything I am about to tell you is above board but to a laymen itis not. I have read several threads in this forum and searched around to help me better ask these questions. Yes, I know how to use the search function. Here is the background as I have heard, there is always two sides of the story.
Basically, she hired lawyers to represent her in a wrongfull termination suite that became a discrimination based on disability suite. I don't know all of the initial suite details plus I feel based on what my actual question is it would be information overload. She paid a LARGE retainer and 40 points on the backend. Based on what I have read on here it seems they took this knowing it would be a hard case to win based solely on her retainer fee. However, they maintained through out the case that it would be worth 7 figures.
Now, crunch time the case comes up for trial. On a Friday the firm calls and requests her and a witness/friend to come on Monday to go over testamony for the case on the following Tuesday trial date. My friend was in a car accident on Sunday evening, she totalled her car and was HIGHLY Morphined up in the ER, (she has had a VERY HIGH exposure/tolerance to morphine due to several month stay in the hospital when younger) Dr. said if he gave her anymore she would stop breathing. Discharged and at home Monday morning 4 am. I tell her to postpone Monday meeting she doesn't and trial friend takes her to law firm. When they arrive they have an offer of settlement. Very low offer and she refuses. We are now at a 5 figure offer, her lawyers start to say settle. She refuses more, and more, and more. After a few more offers it gets to LOW 6 figures, here where I begin to question ethical practices.
At the LOW 6 figure point (not even years worth of salary) her lawyers bring the pressure, big time. She has been there for 3 hours now not going over testimony but saying no to her lawyers trying ot get her to settle. They know she has had an accident as she has a sling on and a neck brace (issued from hospital). Finally, the firms head scum bag comes in and begins the pressure, I would go on but it was nice lawyer, bad lawyer text book example. Finally, they take trial friend (I begin to use the word friend at this point very lightly) aside and begin to work on him to get her to settle in private. Finally, they break him, I won't judge his character but unless you are waterboarding me...anyway. He comes in and also begins to help HER lawyers case to make her settle. She decides to settle after being there 4 1/2 hours, not even been out of an ER for 24 hours.
SO, agreement drawn up by the firm she is sueing on Tuesday FedEx for Wed. Her lawyer calls Wed. afternoon to verify she has signed the agreement. It was delivered at home she is at work, she obviously hasn't even received it yet. Thursday, not her lawyer but a partner calls and makes sure she has signed it. She hasn't, since she knows she was loopy as hell on Monday,when they made her settle (helped her strongly, no one makes you....i guess). She wants another friend who is actually a lawyer criminal, to look it over before signing. Her friend brings up summary judgement and settlement on some magical lawyer website and tells my friend that she has a settlement offer and that if not signed trial is on Jan. 2. Her lawyer at no point has told her of Jan. 2 date. Also, her lawyer friend reads summary jusdgment and sais in his OpinioN it sounds like a solid case. Now is when it gets wierd. Today, she gets 5 calls A.M. and 4 e-mails saying sign it today, get it notorized if she needs to print it off her computer, due what ever but get it signed.
#1 Is this unusual for your own law firm to be so damn persistent in getting you to sign a document you want to review?
She decides after speaking with her lawyer friend and based on her being highly doped up when settleing she isn't happy with the offer and e-mails firm. She tells them very politely (i read the e-mail) she feels that she deserves more and had it not been for her feeling pressured by the people who where to represent her and being doped up she wants either more from the other side or to go to Trial on Jan. 2nd (which at this point was not information given to her by her lawyer). She gets an e-mail response from HER law firm. Stating that at this point they do not agree with her view and would not represent her in court if the judge would agree to let them loose. Also, she would be responsible for additional fees and they would put a lein on her award to recover unbilled but due fees. ALSO, they may have to be a witness for the other side due to her not signing the agreement. Which would release them from the suit and she would have to retain another firm and pay her current firm fees. However, it is her decision and if it isn't received by Monday the 16th, they would motion the court on their behalf.
#2 Is this common practice in a case like this?
#3 Does she have an agreement in force if she hasn't signed it?
#4 Isn't it odd it is on court record before she signs the settlement?
She is tapped out, lost everything and could never hire another firm. She has no choice but to settle after what her lawyers have threatened to do.
Million dollar question. Given her e-mail records, her friends first hand account of the day they made her settle, the fact she was under the influence.. Does she have a case against her firm? Should she send the signed settlement on Monday?
I know this was long, I know there are two sides of the story, but help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you, trully,for your time in reading