Daynard v. Ness, Motley, Loadholt, Richardson & Poole, P.A.; Ronald Motley; Scruggs, Milette, Bozeman & Dent, P.A.; And Richard F. Scruggs

184 F.Supp.2d 55 (D. Mass. 2001)


Professor Daynard (P) of Northeastern University School of Law devoted his career to defeating the tobacco industry in court. From 1993 and 1997, P provided advice to Ds. No written contract detailed how P would be compensated, but P alleges that he and one of the Mississippi defendants shook hands in Chicago, Illinois in 1996 on an agreement whereby he would receive 5% of any attorneys' fees paid to Ds as a result of the State Tobacco Litigation. In 1997 and 1998, the tobacco industry agreed to settle the State Tobacco Litigation for billions of dollars. Ds have received millions of dollars in attorneys' fees, and P has received nothing. P filed a complaint in state court, which Ds properly removed to this Court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a)(1), 1441(a). P seeks enforcement of the oral fee-splitting agreement or, in the alternative, recovery on a quantum meruit basis. This Court dismissed the Mississippi defendants for want of personal jurisdiction and immediately entered partial judgment in their favor, Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(b). The South Carolina defendants now argue that the case should not proceed without the Mississippi defendants because it was Mr. Scruggs who allegedly shook hands with P in Chicago, so any lawsuit without Mr. Scruggs would be incomplete and only spawn subsequent lawsuits that do include Mr. Scruggs. P argues that the handshake in Chicago was merely the culmination of many assurances from both the South Carolina defendants and the Mississippi defendants that he would receive attorneys’ fees. P argues that Ds together agreed to pay him 5% of their attorneys’ fees from the State Tobacco Litigation, so under a theory of joint and several liability, only one defendant need be named in the complaint.