An Arlington jury has awarded a communications law firm the full amount it sued for in a collections action against a client plus more than three times that sum in attorney’s fees and interest.
The amount originally in question was relatively modest, $21,221, but “the law firm felt that they had earned the money and the client felt that they hadn’t,” said Fairfax attorney Jeffrey S. Romanick, who represented Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth PLC. “Both sides sort of dug in.”
The firm’s 28 attorneys handle all aspects of telecommunication law, and Win Radio Broadcasting Inc. had retained it to advise it on the purchase of a radio station on Long Island, N.Y. Win Radio owns and operates AM stations in several states.
Fletcher Heald represented Win Radio on other matters at the same time, but Win Radio contended that it had terminated the firm’s work on the Long Island transaction.
Fletcher Heald acknowledged that another group of lawyers completed the deal but contended that it should be compensated for its work that ultimately resulted in the purchase.
Win Radio countered that the written retainer agreement did not cover the Long Island deal and contended that Fletcher Heald was not qualified to handle the work in New York, which included finding a way to structure the $10 million in debt the seller had accumulated.
Because it hired another law firm to complete the deal, Fletcher Heald’s work was of no value to it, the company argued.
Alexandria lawyer Alan Rosenblum testified as an expert that the fees the firm charged were necessary and reasonable, as were the fees Romanick’s firm, Gross & Romanick PC, incurred in the collections action.
The jury returned its verdict on July 8, the third day of the trial before Judge William T. Newman Jr. The court entered final judgment on Oct. 4 after post-trial motions.
The contract between the firm and the company provided the loser would pay the other’s attorney’s fees in any dispute that arose between them.
In addition to awarding the principal amount due, the jury awarded $55,876 in attorney’s fees to Romanick’s firm, Gross & Romanick PC, $13,916 in prejudgment interest and 12 percent interest on the judgment.
Win Radio has filed a notice of appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia. Its attorney, J. Geoffrey Bentley of Oak Hill, agreed with Romanick that each side was convinced of the strength of its legal position but declined further comment on the case.