August 20, 2020

Michael Gross recognized by Best Lawyers in America 

Michael Gross was selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2021 edition.  Best Lawyers is one of the oldest and most respected peer-review publications in the legal profession.  Inclusion each year reflects the consensus opinions of leading lawyers about the professional abilities of their colleagues.  Michael was selected for inclusion among appellate lawyers.  Michael Gross Law Office was separately selected for appellate practice in the U.S. New & World Report list of Best Law Firms 2021.  The office  was selected to the list for appellate practice.

November 15, 2020

Michael Gross selected to 2020 Missouri & Kansas SuperLawyers list

Michael Gross was selected to the 2020 Missouri & Kansas SuperLawyers list for appellate practice.  SuperLawyers is a rating service operated by Thomson Reuters.  Each year 5 per cent of the lawyers in each region are selected through a multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations.  Michael also was named to SuperLawyers lists of the top 50 lawyers in St. Louis and the top 100 lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

February 22, 2021

Michael Gross named one of Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “most powerful attorneys in appellate law”

The trade weekly said its list features “practitioners who have defended or opposed notable jury verdicts and helped to set important precedents that shape the law.”  The paper reported: “Our editorial team reviewed published appellate opinions, interviewed attorneys and other leaders around the state, and examined the archives of Missouri Lawyers Weekly to compose a list of what we believe are the 30 most powerful appellate attorneys in Missouri.”

April 26, 2021

John Garvey and Michael Gross Obtain Affirmance of Judgment Enforcing Law Firm’s Right to Recover Fees After Withdrawal From Litigation

The Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed a judgment enforcing a law firm’s right to recover fees from its former client in Pivot Holdings LLC v. The Daniel And Henry Company.  Michael Gross and the Hon. John Garvey (ret.) represented the law firm on appeal.

The law firm had represented two related corporations as plaintiffs against a third company.  It sought and was granted leave to withdraw from the case when the clients failed to resolve their own disagreement about whether to settle their claims or continue preparing for an imminent trial.  The law firm then asserted a lien for attorney fees against proceeds of that litigation.

One of the clients eventually obtained a substantial verdict.  The trial court conducted a hearing and entered judgment enforcing the former law firm’s lien against the proceeds of that verdict.  The ex-client appealed.  It raised numerous challenges to both the right of the firm to recover its fees after having withdrawn from the case and the manner in which the trial court had ordered payment to be made.

After the appeal was briefed and argued, the Court of Appeals held that “none of these points have merit.”  The court rejected in particular the former client’s several arguments contending that the law firm had agreed to exempt it from liability for fees and  collect only from its other client.  After a thorough review of evidence presented in the trial court, the appellate panel concluded:

In sum, the evidence showed there was no express agreement between the law firm and its client to absolve the client of responsibility for paying the firm for its services … In the absence of an express contract regarding attorney’s fees, the universal rule is that a promise to pay the reasonable value of an attorney’s services is implied.  Thus the trial court correctly imposed an implied promise in this case.

The Court of Appeals also rejected the notion that the law firm had forfeited its right to be paid by withdrawing from the client’s case.  The court acknowledged the general rule that a lawyer who withdraws from a case without justification is not entitled to payment for the services he rendered.  But it also recognized a proviso to that rule:

Forfeiture is generally inappropriate when the lawyer has not done anything willfully blameworthy, for example, when a conflict of interest arises during a representation because of the unexpected act of a client or third person.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s determinations that the law firm “had just cause to withdraw based on the clients’ conflicting positions regarding settlement” and thus that “forfeiture of the firm’s fee was inappropriate on this record.”  The appellate court noted the firm’s efforts to get the clients to resolve their conflicting instructions with respect to settling their case or continuing to prepare for trial, as well as its actions to protect both clients from adverse consequences when resolution was not forthcoming and withdrawal became necessary.  The court flatly rejected the notion that the firm had violated any duty of loyalty or trust, affirming the trial court’s determination that the firm “had just cause to withdraw” and was entitled to recover its fees.