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Lyon v. Schindler

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

May 13, 2013

ROBERT E. LYON
v.
EDWIN D. SCHINDLER, ET AL

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS); MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT AS TO ALL CLAIMS ALLEGED IN THE COMPLAINT (Docket #32, filed March 25, 2013)

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Robert Lyon ("Lyon") filed the instant action in Los Angeles County Superior Court on September 17, 2012 against Edwin Schindler ("Schindler"). Subsequently, Schindler removed the action to this Court on October 18, 2012. Lyon's complaint asserts five claims for relief: (1) breach of contract, (2) open book account, (3) account stated, (4) reasonable value of services, and (5) fraud. Also, Schindler has filed a single counterclaim against plaintiff for conversion.

On March 25, 2013, Schindler filed a motion for summary judgment. Lyon filed an opposition on April 22, 2013, and Schindler replied on April 25, 2013. The Court held a hearing on April 29, 2013, and issued a tentative order granting Schindler's motion. After further considering the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. BACKGROUND

This case arises out of a dispute over attorney's fees incurred for services performed by Lyon and Schindler for Elias Amkie and Stich N Genius (collectively "Amkie").[1] Schindler and Lyon jointly represented Amkie in patent and trademark infringement litigation in the Central District of California between 2009-2010 (the "Amkie case"). Initially, Schindler was retained to handle the litigation, but because Schindler resides and is licensed to practice law in New York, he contacted Lyon to act as local counsel in the Amkie case. Dkt. #45 Ex. 7. Lyon agreed. Id.

Shortly after agreeing to act as local counsel, Lyon submitted a written representation agreement to Amkie setting out the terms on which Lyon would act as local counsel and receive payment. Dkt. #45 Ex. 5. Lyon contends that this agreement was never signed by Amkie. Id . Additionally, Lyon claims that around the time he agreed to act as local counsel for Schindler, Schindler promised that he would be responsible for paying Lyon. Complaint § 13.[2]

After the Amkie case was completed, on September 10, 2010, Lyon filed a lawsuit against Amkie in Los Angeles County Superior Court seeking attorney's fees. See Robert E. Lyon v. Elias Amkie, an Individual, and Stitch n Genius, Inc., Case No. YC063207. Schindler was not a party to that lawsuit. In response to Lyon's complaint, Amkie filed a cross-complaint on December 7, 2010, alleging claims for fraud, tortuous interference with contract and economic advantage, and malpractice. Additionally, Lyon claims that he demanded payment of his attorney's fees from Schindler by e-mail at some point between September 2010 and January 2011.

Even though Schindler was not a party to the Lyon case, Amkie and Schindler also contemplated claims against one another for malpractice and attorney's fees, respectively, arising out of the Amkie case. Accordingly, on January 10, 2011, a Mutual General Release ("Release") was executed by Lyon, Schindler, and Amkie. Dkt. #33 Ex. 3. This document provides:

A. This Mutual General Release ("Agreement" is entered into between Edwin D. Schindler ("Schindler") and Robert E. Lyon ("Lyon"), on the one hand, and Elias Amkie and Stitch N Genius, Inc., on the other hand (collectively "Amkie").
B. In consideration of the mutual covenants contained herein, the parties now and forever release and discharge each other and their respective agents, employees, successors, insurers, principals, attorneys and assigns from and against any and all claims, demands, obligations, losses, damages, costs, attorney fees, attorney liens, actions, causes of action, and liabilities of whatever kind and nature, whether known or unknown, suspected or claimed, as well as all claims known or unknown to the fullest extent of the law. The parties specifically release and discharge all claims for attorney fees and all claims for legal malpractice including any and all claims related to Los Angeles Superior Court Case Number: YC063207. Elias Amkie and Stitch N Genius agree to dismiss, with prejudice, all claims against Edwin D. Schindler and Robert E. Lyon in LASC No. YC063207.

Id. Additionally, the settlement contains a waiver of rights under California Civil Code Section 1542. Id . §§ C-D.

While the terms of settlement between Schindler and Amkie are not clear, Lyon alleges that he has not received payment for legal services performed in connection with the Amkie case. He now seeks ...


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