Musings —06.16.2017 08:00 AM—
This is a huge decision, with historic implications. For usurious trial lawyers, it is an unmitigated disaster: they now face the realistic prospect of class action lawsuits by clients they have manipulated and ripped off.
Meanwhile, anyone seen Ontario’s Attorney General? He’s been as invisible on this file as he has on a neo-Nazi rag attacking minorities right here in the GTA and making death threats.
A possible 6,000 accident victims can now band together to try and get their money back from a law firm alleged to have double dipped from their settlements.
Ontario’s top court ruled Thursday to uphold the class action certification for a case against personal injury law firm Neinstein & Associates LLP that is accused of taking more fees from its former clients than Ontario law allows.
The hotly anticipated ruling by the Ontario Court of Appeal could have wide-ranging ramifications for personal injury lawyers in the province because it shines an increasingly glaring spotlight on Ontario’s contingency fee system — “you don’t pay unless we win.”
In simple terms, lawyers working on contingency cannot take a sum of money called “costs” in addition to an agreed-upon percentage fee they take out of a final settlement. The court ruled that the case against Neinstein can move forward as a class action.
The court, drawing on information presented to it during the hearing earlier this year, stated there appears to be “widespread” non-compliance in Ontario with the Solicitor’s Act when it comes to protection of contingency fee clients and the allocation of costs.