A high-profile fee dispute led to holdings that (1) an attorney can recover in quantum meruit in connection with an oral contingent fee agreement, notwithstanding the other legal problems with such agreements; (2) legally sufficient evidence of the attorney’s “valuable compensable global settlement services” supported the verdict on his quantum meruit theory; (3) claimed error on the narrow scope of a fiduciary duty instruction was not preserved without a specific objection to the scope issue; and (4) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing a spoliation instruction, when evidence showed that the destruction of the relevant emails resulted from a routine upgrade process. Shamoun & Norman, LLP v. Hill, No. 05-13-01634-CV (Jan. 26, 2016). The Court rendered judgment on quantum meruit.
General Capital Group, a German investment firm, claimed that it entered into an oral deal with AT&T in January 2009 to broker the purchase of T-Mobile for a 2% commission on what was to be a $39 billion deal. In May 2009, GC held another meeting with AT&T, during which AT&T indicated it was not interested in pursuing the transaction at that time. After two years with no communication between GC and AT&T, the latter announced that it intended to acquire T-Mobile. GC approached AT&T, which denied that it had any deal with GC.
GC filed suit for breach of contract. During the pendency of the suit, AT&T announced that it was not longer going to pursue the T-Mobile deal due to opposition by the Justice Department. With no sale on which to base its claim for a massive commission, GC changed its theory to to fraud, seeking recovery of $30 million for the “reasonable value of its services.” The trial court granted summary judgment, and the court of appeals affirmed. GC could not recover for fraud because even if AT&T had agreed to a 2% success fee, GC could not show harm because there hadn’t ever been any success for such a fee to be based on. Likewise, GC could not recover for quantum meruit because it has no expectation of being paid unless there was a successful acquisition.
General Capital Group v. AT&T, No. 05-12-00446-CV