Litigation breaks out over fees from Missouri wrongful death lawsuit

By John Suayan | May 6, 2019

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) – The A.W. Smith Law Firm of Columbia, Mo., is suing Seattle-based attorney Jaime M. Olander; Tiger Mountain Law Group, doing business as Washington Law Group; and former attorney Komron “Mike” Allahyari over attorneys fees generated from a local wrongful death case.

SLF recently initiated litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division. It hopes the lawsuit would prevent Olander, Allahyari, and WLG from receiving a one-third “referral fee” from the David Hyde wrongful death settlement proceeds.

The plaintiff represented Hyde’s widow and their three minor children in a lawsuit alleging the Fulton, Mo. resident was crushed to death by a 2,000-lb. steel pilon at a construction site in Minnesota two years ago. Avianka Hyde was allegedly referred to the plaintiff firm by the respondents.

Having filed the suit in the Circuit Court of Jackson County on behalf of the surviving Hydes in late June 2017, SLF worked with the Bartimus Frickleton Law Firm as part of a co-counsel arrangement on the Hydes’ case.

The suit was not deliberated since SLF and BLF attended a mediation and reached a confidential settlement agreement with the loading facility sued over the worker’s death just a month before it was scheduled to go to trial earlier this year.

According to the original petition, Avianka Hyde informed SLF the same day of the mediation that “she had never hired Olander or WLG and that they had never represented her in any capacity.” It added that “she had no prior relationships with (Olander), ‘Mike,' or the WLG, whatsoever.”

SLF stated that it told Olander it could not share a co-counsel fee with WLG “because Avianka Hyde never hired that firm, WLG did not do any of the attorney work, share in the expenses, or share in any of the responsibilities; and that payment of a share of the fee would violate well-settled Missouri law on co-counsel fee sharing.”

Olander and WLG purportedly responded last month by sending the plaintiff a letter asserting an attorney's lien on one-third of the attorney’s fees from the settlement, as well as offering to pay one-third of the expenses to SLF and BLF “in an apparent attempt to ‘share’ in the expenses, despite knowing that the case was already settled and that it, therefore, had no risk of not recovering the expenses.”

The suit additionally claimed that Olander, WLG, and Allahyari, who resigned from Washington state’s bar association in 2011, operated a RICO organization intent on defrauding clients and attorneys “for attorney’s fees in personal injury and wrongful death cases in which the RICO organization never actually represented the clients.”

Olander declined to comment when he was contacted by Legal Newsline.

SLF is representing itself.

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri case number 2:19-cv-04080

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