CONTINGENT FEE AGREEMENT
The undersigned individual (“You”) appoints and authorizes THOMAS J. CONNICK (of Dubyak, Connick, Sammon, Thompson & Bloom, LLC), EDWARD W. COCHRAN, and MICHAEL BLUMENTHAL and DAVID WAXMAN (of Waxman Blumenthal LLC) (each an “Attorney” and, collectively, the “Attorneys”) represent You for all claims You may have against S. H. Bell Company (“S. H. BELL”), or any of its affiliated companies.
The Attorneys are authorized to interview all parties, witnesses, government authorities, and all others determined by them to be interested or necessary: to appoint or hire others as required by their judgment: and to do all other acts desirable or necessary to pursue the above claims.
As their fee in this matter, You hereby agree that the Attorneys shall retain 40% of the gross sum obtained by settlement, verdict or otherwise, except that, if there is an appeal, the fee will be 45% (the term “gross settlement,” as used in this Contingent Fee Agreement, means the total amount of money recovered as damages for the client, by settlement or otherwise, before the deduction of expenses). While the Attorneys will jointly represent You, You will be responsible for only one fee, which the Attorneys will split 1/3 each (i.e., Attorney Connick and the law firm of Dubyak, Connick, Sammon, Thompson & Bloom, LLC will receive 1/3 of the fee, Attorney Cochran will receive 1/3 of the fee and Attorneys Waxman and Blumenthal and the law firm of Waxman Blumenthal LLC will receive 1/3 of the fee). The Attorneys are sharing in this work because it is such a big and expensive job. Each of the Attorneys law firms will be totally and jointly responsible for representing You, and the Attorneys intend to split the time, effort and expense required as equally as possible among their law firms. The Attorneys are splitting the expenses among the law firms three equal ways, and will split the fee among the three law firms three equal ways, if possible. The Attorneys’ fees will be calculated based upon the gross settlement of the case. However, if when the work is over, the work has not been roughly equal among the three law firms, then the division of fees will be adjusted to reflect the portion of services performed by each law firm. Of course, the Attorneys will advise you of the exact division of fees and expenses, whatever they are, at the time of settlement or other resolution of this matter.
You acknowledge that each of You will be one of many clients represented by the Attorneys as part of a large group. You hereby authorize the Attorneys to settle Your claim as part of a “group settlement” of all of the clients. Your share of such a group settlement amount will be determined by a professional “claims administrator” who will be hired exclusively for that purpose.
Any and all expenses necessary in the litigation of these claims will be advanced by Attorneys and their law firms and will be reimbursed from any amount recovered.
You are free to rescind your contingent fee agreement with us at any time for any reason. You may do so by e-mailing any of the Attorneys, or writing to any of the Attorneys, indicating that you wish to rescind. If you do so, you will owe the Attorneys and their law firms absolutely nothing, and you will be free to retain another attorney at that point if you so desire. So, if you ever wish to withdraw from the Attorneys’ representation, please contact any of the Attorneys as soon as possible.
The Attorneys are representing a large number of individual plaintiffs in suing S. H. BELL. At this time, the Attorneys do not know how many plaintiffs will sign Contingency Fee Agreements to participate in litigation against S. H. BELL, but the Attorneys anticipate it will be a large number. The Attorneys truly believe that there is an “advantage in numbers” in pursuing S. H. BELL. To properly pursue the litigation, there would be a very large expense and a great deal of work required. It would be very difficult to justify this large expense and work commitment for just one homeowner or person, or even for a small number of persons. By representing a large number of plaintiffs, we can “spread the expense” and “spread the work” among a large number of people, reducing the per person cost and work to an amount that is economically justified by the size of the claims.
Nonetheless, there are certain risks to such joint representation of which You should be aware:
- If there is an aggregate settlement that is agreeable to the majority of the claimants and You object to the terms of the aggregate settlement and do not wish to participate therein, You must dismiss your case, without prejudice, and the Attorneys will withdraw from representing You; You may then pursue Your own independent claim with new counsel of your choice.
- If there is an aggregate settlement consisting, at least partially, of a “settlement fund,” said fund will be divided among the plaintiffs in the case; the fund will not be divided equally, but, instead, the amount of each plaintiff’s award from the fund will be determined by an independent claims administrator hired for that purpose. The claims administrator will decide the amount of each plaintiff’s award based upon objective criteria that will be applied to all claims. The expense of the claims administrator’s work will be paid from the settlement fund.
- When an attorney has only one client in a case, his loyalty is only to that client. When, as here, attorneys have many clients, obviously their loyalty is divided and is owed to all clients. Being represented by your own attorney, with no other clients, avoids this division of loyalty problem. However, in this case, the Attorneys believe that the advantages of joint representation far outweigh that danger. This is all the more true since You are free at any time to rescind your agreement with the Attorneys, without cost, and obtain Your own attorney.
- If our common representation of You later fails because potentially adverse interests cannot be reconciled, the Attorneys will most likely be forced to withdraw from representing some of the clients. In addition, the Attorneys must further consider whether any contentious litigation or negotiations between the clients are imminent or contemplated or whether the clients relationships with one another are antagonistic before undertaking our representation. This is because the Attorneys are required to be and remain impartial between the clients. If it is unlikely that impartiality can be maintained, the Attorneys cannot undertake those clients’ common representation. Therefore, the Attorneys ask that You fully advise us of any concern You might have in this regard. If no such concerns are expressed to the Attorneys, in writing, the Attorneys will presume that none exist.
- As a legal, practical and ethical matter, the Attorneys have a duty to keep matters related to the nature, scope and content of our engagement and our communications confidential unless You consent to the disclosure of any such confidential or communications. However, certain information and communications are practically or ethically necessary to complete the tasks associated this engagement which the Attorneys are ethically permitted to divulge. Moreover, as the Attorneys are engaged in the common representation of multiple clients in the action against S. H. BELL, communications with the Attorneys pertaining to the matter will not be protected by the attorney-client privilege, now or later, and as client confidential information as among You and all clients. Simply put, this means that any information shared with the Attorneys by You or by any of the other clients may be shared among You and all the other clients even if Your interests later become adverse to each other. Any request made to any of the Attorneys by You or any of the other clients that information is to be kept confidential from the other clients relative to the action against S. H. BELL, may create a conflict of interest and render the common representation impossible or impermissible to continue, and potentially require the Attorneys to cease representing You and all of the other clients. This is so because the Attorneys have an equal duty of loyalty to each client, and You and each of the other clients have the right to be informed of anything bearing on the representation that might affect Your interests or the interests of the other clients and the right to expect that the Attorneys will use that information to Your and their benefit, and not to Your and their detriment. Additionally, You and each of the clients have the right to our loyal and diligent representation and later, to the protections afforded by the Attorneys’ rules of ethics concerning the obligations owed former clients. However, while the information cannot be kept from each other, such information cannot and will not be shared with any other person or party without their express consent.
You and the Attorneys agree that the signatures of the Attorneys are “original signatures” for all purposes. If You are signing this Contingent Fee Agreement electronically on the Attorneys’ website, You and the Attorneys agree that Your electronic signature is an “original signature” for all purposes.
The Attorneys have signed this Contingent Fee Agreement as of the date set forth above their signatures. If You have submitted Your Contingency Fee Agreement electronically, You agree that You have signed this Contingency Fee Agreement as of the date You submit Your Contingency Fee Agreement electronically. If You physically sign Your Contingency Fee Agreement, please insert the date that You sign in the space provided below Your signature.
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