Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Michigan

Legal Fee Collection

I was thrown into a lawsuit 3 years ago. I originally owned a domain name. Just before it expired, a friend of mine re-registered it~but left it in my name because it was easier. She was then sued and I was added to the case because of my previous ownership. The case dragged out for a year. I knew nothing about the online company, which both I and she informed everyone, but they still refused to drop me from the suit. The entire time it was in litigation and the years since, I had never been billed by the firm representing us. I thought that since they had never billed me, I was just ''tagging along piggyback'' since I never knew anything about the company being sued. I just received a bill a month ago, the case was started Dec. 2002. The attorned says I signed a paper saying I'd pay for half. I don't remember it, and I have never gotten a copy of the paper he claims I signed. Even if I did, can they wait three years to send the initial bill!? Do I have any outs here? By the way, they are trying to bill me $8000. Yes, you read that right...for a case I had nothing to do with! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I don't know if I should seek legal counsel and pay MORE fees!

Asked on 1/05/06, 10:49 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Rochelle Guznack Law Offices of Rochelle E. Guznack, PLLC

Re: Legal Fee Collection

If you were named as a defendant in a lawsuit, then you certainly did have something to do with the lawsuit even if you dispute the facts that made you a party. Any way you look at it, your involvement/liability was an issue to be dealt with in the litigation process. Unless your friend agreed to indemnify you, you owe the money and you especially owe the money if you agreed to pay one-half of the legal fees incurred. The statute of limitations for a contract in Michigan is 6 years.

Whether or not $8,000 is reasonable depends on the work involved, amount of time spent by the law firm, and the attorneys' hourly rate. At $200 an hour (an average attorney hourly rate), it does not take long to incur $8,000 in legal fees.

I suggest you ask to see a copy of the contract and talk to the attorney to see if there is a compromise that can be worked out.

Good luck.

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Answered on 1/05/06, 1:49 pm

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