Informal Opinion Number: 20000023

Rules: 4-1.15; 4-1.5
Client-Lawyer Relationship
Trust Accounts and Property of Others 

Reference Note: Effective July 1, 2016, subdivision 4-1.15(f) of Rule 4 was repealed and a new subdivision 4-1.15(f) adopted in lieu thereof. This opinion is based on Rule 4-1.15 in effect prior to that date.

Reference Note:  Rule 4-1.15 was amended, effective July 1, 2013.  This opinion is based on the rule in effect prior to that date.  Please see the July 1, 2013 version of Rule 4-1.15.

QUESTION: Attorney represented plaintiff in a personal injury action. Attorney promised to pay various health care providers from the settlement proceeds of the case while the case was pending. Attorney did this with the client´s knowledge and consent. When the matter settled, the client would not give Attorney permission to pay the client´s health care providers from the settlement proceeds. Attorney gave the client several months to work out a settlement with the health care providers, but when the client could not work out a settlement, Attorney filed an interpleader action. Is it ethical for Attorney to claim attorney´s fees for time incurred in the interpleader action? Is it ethical for Attorney to request reimbursement for funds used to file and serve the interpleader action on all parties?
ANSWER: Attorney may claim attorney´s fees and expenses related to the interpleader action.

Informal Opinions are ethics advisory opinions issued by the Office of Legal Ethics Counsel to members of the Bar about Rule 4 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 5 (Complaints and Proceedings Thereon), and Rule 6 (Fees to Practice Law) pursuant to Missouri Supreme Court Rule 5.30(c). Written summaries of select Informal Opinions are published for informational purposes as determined by the Advisory Committee of the Supreme Court of Missouri pursuant to Rule 5.30(c). Informal opinion summaries are advisory in nature and are not binding. These opinions are published as an educational service and do not constitute legal advice.

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