Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County, April T., 1963, No. 165, in case of Sanford M. Lampl v. Paul Latkanich et ux.
Gilfert M. Mihalich, for appellants.
Bernard S. Shire, with him Ezerski & Shire, for appellee.
Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J.
[ 210 Pa. Super. Page 85]
This is an appeal from the judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Westmoreland County awarding $5,580 to the plaintiff for legal services rendered.
Plaintiff Sanford M. Lampl is an attorney specializing in business and corporate law. Defendant Paul Latkanich was, until 1963, a substantial investor in the Bonita Corporation, a closely held company engaged in real estate speculation in Florida.
In January, 1959, Paul Latkanich employed the plaintiff to represent him and to protect his interest in the corporation. At that time, the corporation was overextended and threatened with substantial litigation. In addition, its four equal shareholders were unable to resolve certain internal differences. Defendant had been excluded from meetings of the corporation,
[ 210 Pa. Super. Page 86]
had ceased receiving information with regard to its affairs, and was deeply concerned that friends who had purchased land from Bonita would find their investment worthless.
Plaintiff and the husband-defendant signed an initial letter agreement, in which the plaintiff agreed to represent the defendant.*fn1 In return, the defendant agreed to pay a contingent fee of ten percent of "anything of value" recovered or realized from the corporation.
In March, 1959, after the plaintiff had discovered the complexity of the task confronting him, the parties renegotiated the terms of his employment. The contingent fee arrangement was altered somewhat, and, since it had become clear that both Mr. and Mrs. Latkanich wished to retain the plaintiff, the signatures of both parties were obtained on a formal written agreement. Thereafter, the plaintiff represented both defendants until April 10, 1961, when he was summarily discharged. At that time, the husband-defendant had not yet disposed of his stock interest in the Bonita Corporation. The principal contingency which was to determine the amount of plaintiff's fee had, therefore, not yet occurred.
In April, 1963, the plaintiff instituted this suit to recover compensation for his efforts on behalf of the defendants. He estimates that he worked approximately 290 hours on their affairs in the course of his employment. He attended at least 62 meetings and conferences, and spent numerous ...