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Cazares v. Saenz

256 Cal. Rptr. 209 (1989)

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Cazares v. Saenz

California Court of Appeal

256 Cal. Rptr. 209 (1989)

Facts

Raul Gutierrez retained Phil Saenz (defendant) to represent him in a personal-injury suit. Saenz, an inexperienced lawyer, retained the partnership of Roy Cazares and Thomas Tosdal (plaintiffs) to join him as cocounsel in return for half of any attorney’s fees. Saenz particularly wanted to work with Cazares and did not feel comfortable working with Tosdal. Saenz and Cazares orally agreed that Cazares would handle all or most of the partnership’s share of the work and that to the extent that Tosdal did any work on the case, he would do so only indirectly and without any contact with Saenz. Cazares worked on the case until he was appointed to a municipal judgeship, after which the Cazares-Tosdal partnership was dissolved. Tosdal offered to take over Cazares’s role, but Saenz turned Tosdal down and found other cocounsel. Together, Saenz and his new cocounsel settled the Gutierrez case for a large sum. Both Cazares and Tosdal sued Saenz to recover half of the attorney’s fees. The case was heard by a referee, who ruled in the former partners’ favor. Saenz appealed to the California Court of Appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Wiener, J.)

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