Fee dispute between law firm and client results in counter-claim; $146K. Orange County.


Law firm sues for its fees; client countersues firm for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty.

The Case

  • Case Name: Bohm Wildish, LLP v. Teresa Roebuck in her capacity as trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
  • Court and Case Number: Orange County Superior Court / 30-2016-00862253-CU-CL-CJC
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, October 29, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, July 07, 2016
  • Type of Case: Breach of Contract, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Fraud
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Walter P. Schwarm
  • Plaintiffs:
    Bohm Wildish, LLP
    Cross Complainant – Teresa Roebuck in her capacity as trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
  • Defendants:
    Teresa Roebuck in her capacity of Trustee of the Shell Beach Trust Settlement
    Cross defendant – Daniel Wildish
    Cross defendant – Bohm Wildish, LLP
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $146,375.60 for plaintiff law firm on its breach of contract claim; defense verdict on the cross complaint.
  • Net Verdict or Award: $146,375.60
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Bohm Wildish, LLP awarded $146,375.60 on its complaint.

    Unanimous defense verdict for Bohm Wildish, LLP and Daniel Wildish on Roebuck's cross-complaint for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty seeking over $10 million in damages.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 3 weeks.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Bohm Wildish & Matsen, LLP by James G. Bohm, Costa Mesa.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Law Offices of Arthur Lettenmaier by Arthur Lettenmaier, Agoura Hills.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    James Ulwelling, Esq., standard of care and fiduciary duties, Costa Mesa.

    James Hibert, real estate valuation, Carlsbad

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Daniel M. Smith, Esq., standard of care and fiduciary duties, San Diego.

    Kim Onesko, economics, Long Beach.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff, a law firm, sued defendant for breach of a contract to settle a fee dispute.

    Defendant filed a cross-complaint against the firm and one if its partners, claiming fraud and a breach of fiduciary duty resulting in the loss of a 1/2-acre parcel of property near the ocean in Dana Point. Cross-complainant claimed over $10 million in damages.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that defendant trustee Roebuck entered into an agreement to settle a fee dispute with her lawyers (plaintiffs) for $100,000.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendant and cross-complainant contended that the law firm committed fraud as to its claimed bankruptcy experience and breached its fiduciary duty by suing its client (defendant) for a legal fee using information it claimed was learned by the attorneys during the existence of the attorney-client relationship.

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff Final Demand before Trial: Mutual walk-away. (Offered on several occasions.)