Appeal from the 412th Judicial District Brazoria County,
Texas Trial Court Case No. 83321-CV.
consists of Chief Justice Radack and Justices Higley and
appeal arises from an attorney's suit against a former
client to recover his contingency fee. Forouzan Goodarzi
appeals the trial court's judgment requiring a
sheriff's sale of pieces of her jewelry and awarding her
attorney, Robert D. Clements, Jr., $32, 205.31 in fees and
expenses. On appeal, Goodarzi contends that the trial court
erred in (1) granting Clements' motion for partial
summary judgment and interpreting the parties'
contingency-fee contract to include the jewelry's value
as part of her "recovery" subject to the
contingent-fee apportionment, (2) refusing to grant Goodarzi
adequate time to retain new counsel to represent her at trial
after Clements withdrew from representing her, and (3)
excluding Goodarzi's newly hired attorney from testifying
as an expert on attorney's fees. We reverse and remand.
before the end of 2011, Goodarzi procured insurance coverage
from Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company for two diamond
earrings, a pendant, and a tennis bracelet. The jewelry was
stolen from her, and she filed a claim with the insurer.
According to the policy's terms, the insurer paid
approximately $148, 000 in proceeds to D.M. Diamond Co.,
which had contracted with Jewelers Mutual to provide
Diamond provided Goodarzi replacement jewelry purportedly
worth approximately $148, 000. Goodarzi initially took
possession of the jewelry but later returned it, contending
that her original jewelry was worth more than the replacement
jewelry and that she was entitled to the difference in value.
received a May 7, 2014 letter from D.M. Diamond, signed by
Danny Mushin, demanding that she pick up the replacement
jewelry as the company had not agreed to store it. The letter
warned Goodarzi that if she did not pick up the jewelry by
4:30 P.M. on May 16, 2014, it would be placed in a box
outside the office door.
record does not divulge exactly what happened next, but the
jewelry evidently remained in D.M. Diamond's possession.
Goodarzi entered into a contingency-fee contract with Robert
Clements, Jr., for his professional legal assistance in
resolving the dispute. The July 31, 2014 contingency-fee
contract between Goodarzi and Clements authorizes Clements
"to represent [Goodarzi] to fully prosecute, litigate
and/or compromise and settle all claims" that Goodarzi
against all necessary, responsible or agreed upon parties
arising from, because of or in any way connected to: Jewelry
Insurance claim as a result of theft on 12-13-11 against
Jeweler's Mutual and Danny Mushin, D.M. Diamonds and all
other responsible parties.
agreement held Goodarzi responsible for paying any costs and
expenses incurred and for paying Clements
[a]n amount equal to forty percent (40%) of the value of any
recovery by way of settlement, judgment or otherwise achieved
or received by the Client(s) in connection with the matter(s)
for which the Attorney is hereby retained if such recovery is
achieved or received after the filing of any lawsuit . . . .
affidavit supporting his motion for partial summary judgment,
Clements averred that he proposed to Goodarzi that they
"would attempt to recover damages from Jeweler's
Mutual, then would try to get her jewelry returned . . .,
sell the jewelry, and then finish the suit against the
primary defendants D.M. Diamonds and Daniel Mushin."
on behalf of Goodarzi, Clements sued Jeweler's Mutual;
D.M. Diamond; and its owner, Danny Mushin, in Harris County
district court. Jeweler's ...