Sterling Financial: What happened?
Last week, an employee lawsuit filed against Spokane-based Sterling Financial was dropped. The plaintiff in the case said he never agreed to any involvement and did not give permission for his name to be used by attorneys.
Although the firm working on the litigation was based in Pennsylvania, I thought I would give my readers some background on the regulations in Washington which require contingency fee agreements to be in writing.
The Rule of Professional Conduct (RPC), in addition to other state laws, governs an attorney’s conduct in Washington State. RPC 1.5 specifically requires that if a lawyer is paid by a client through a contingency fee, the lawyer must have a signed agreement with the client which explains how the fee is paid.
In regards to the Sterling Financial case, the attorney representing the lead plaintiff likely failed to obtain a signed copy of this agreement. Therefore, under the RPC’s it likely would have been unethical for the firm to continue the representation.
Assuming the case was not dismissed with prejudice, a new lead plaintiff will likely come forward, sign the required forms, and proceed with the lawsuit. However, until that occurs the case will be on hold.