List of 67 Important Cases Re Liens, Cases 37-40 | San Diego Injury Law Firm

37A. Fletcher v. Davis, 33 Cal.4th 61 (2004)

An attorney may not obtain a charging lien against his client through his fee agreement unless said agreement complies with RPC 3-300, requiring, among other things, that a client be advised to seek independent legal counsel and be given a reasonable opportunity to do so. Ct specifically did not decide whether this applied to attorneys' contingent fees coupled with lien on client's prospective recovery.

 

37B. County of LA v. Juarez, et al., 137 Cal.App.4th 410 (2006)

As against a third party, attorney was allowed to assert an equitable lien based upon an oral agreement. Ct noted that a mere promise to pay a debt out of a particular fund was insufficient to create an equitable lien, a promise coupled with considerations of detrimental reliance or unjust enrichment may suffice.

 

38. Progressive West Ins. Co. v Yolo County Superior Court, 135 Cal.App.4th 263 (2005) Case arising out of med pay reimbursement. Held that in personal injury cases, insurer cannot assert its subrogation claim directly against 3d party tortfeasor. Insurer may intervene in 3d party action or wait to seek reimbursement out of the recovery. If the insurer does not intervene in 3d party action, its right to recover is limited by the "make whole" rule to recover only after the insured has recouped his loss and some or all of his litigation expenses. Ct held that both reimbursement rights and subro rights fall under the rubric of subro and are therefore both subject to "make whole" doctrine. The insurance contract may waive the "make whole" rule but it must do so by clearly and specifically giving the insurer priority out of the proceeds regardless of whether insured was made whole. Insured here filed a 17200 action for the alleged unfair business practice of the insurer seeking full med pay reimbursement without regard to the "make whole" and common fund doctrine. The court affirmed the trial court's denial of insurer's demurrer to the 17200 action for unfair business practices.

 

39. Fitch v. Select Products, 36 Cal.4th 812 (2005)

Although Medi-Cal is authorized to file suit against a third party liable for the death of a Medi-Cal beneficiary who received benefits, the controlling statutes do not authorize Medi-Cal to recover such benefits from the plaintiffs in the action for beneficiary's wrongful death. Medical expenses are not recoverable in a wrongful death action—only in a survival action.

 

40. Arkansas DHHS v Ahlborn, 126 S. Ct. 1752 (2006)

State Medicaid agency's statutory right to recover medical expenses from recipient's personal injury case is limited to the amount of medical expenses actually recovered by recipient. In this case, because actual recovery was limited by recipient's 5/6 comparative negligence, Medicaid was limited to recovery of 1/6 of amount it had paid on behalf of recipient. Contrast this unanimous decision to unanimous decision in Sereboff decided 2 weeks later. Holding codified in CA in W&I 14127.76.

 

Mark C. Blane is a San Diego Auto Accident Attorney, and the managing lawyer of the Law Offices of Mark C. Blane, a San Diego, California Personal Injury Law Firm devoted to representing families of injured persons of automobile accidents. If you or someone you love, has been injured or killed in San Diego County, or Southern California, due to the negligence of another, please order your FREE copy of Mr. Blane's book, The 10 Secrets You Ne ed To Know About Your Injury Case, BEFORE You Call A Lawyer. It is full of helpful information, insights, and secrets that will help you protect your legal rights.  It normally sells for $16.95; however, it is free to all California residents, or those injured in a California accident.