BGR Wins Jury Verdict for Client in 11-Year Legal Odyssey
May 4th, 2017
A Los Angeles jury today awarded a complete defense verdict in an 11-year legal battle against BGR client Marcy Tiffany and her former partner Steven Wyner, both attorneys, and their now-dissolved law firm, Wyner & Tiffany. In 2005, Wyner & Tiffany secured a landmark $6.7 million settlement for their then-clients, John and Deborah Porter, in a case against the Porters’ son’s school district and the California Department of Education. The Porters thanked Wyner & Tiffany by suing the firm, and the partners individually, for another $300,000, seeking $200,000 in alleged unpaid wages – Deborah Porter helped out Wyner & Tiffany as a paralegal, her profession before she became a full-time litigator and advocate for her son – and a refund of the $100,000 the Porters paid to Wyner & Tiffany against a legal bill of more than $1 million. The case was tried in 2008, ending with liability for the attorneys. While the amount of liability was modest, Tiffany’s and Wyner’s exposure was magnified by the attorney’s fees award that accompanies judgments for unpaid wages under the Labor Code.
The judgment was reversed, and in 2014, BGR stepped in to handle the second trial. While Wyner & Tiffany (which BGR did not represent) did not prevail on its $44,000 claim for breach of contract against the Porters, BGR partners Eric George and Pete Ross – with some help from Wyner and Tiffany who represented their former firm – beat Deborah Porter’s claim for lost wages and the Porters’ claim for a refund by filtering through 11 years of litigation and making the case understandable for the jury. The jury did not even need to reach the question, which hung over the case since its inception, of whether Deborah Porter recovered her lost earnings through the $6.7 million settlement because it found that she was not an employee of Wyner & Tiffany. BGR defeated the claim for a refund by showing that the Porters actually owed money to Wyner & Tiffany under a contingency fee agreement, and therefore the Porters were not entitled to a refund. With the employment claim defeated, the Porters will no longer be able to look to Tiffany and Wyner to pay the Porters’ legal fees for the past 11 years.