Tuesday, November 06, 2007, 8:59 PM

COA Upholds $25k Attorney's Fee On $7k Jury Verdict

Today the Court of Appeals (COA) upheld a $25,000 attorney's fee award to the attorney of a plaintiff who recovered $7,000 in a jury trial. The case is Wright v. Murray.

G.S. 6-21.1 says that when a plaintiff recovers $10,000 or less in a personal injury suit, the trial court may allow plaintiff's attorney a reasonable fee upon a finding that there was an unwarranted refusal by the insurance company to settle. The purpose of this remedial statute is to provide relief for a person who has sustained injury or damage in an amount so small that a suit may not be feasible.

In this case, defendant had offered $8k in mediation and had made an offer of judgment for $8,001. The trial court found that the offer of judgment was less than judgment finally obtained because, in addition to the $7,000 verdict, the trial court had awarded $3,000 in costs.

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