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Application of David Kamerman v. United States

decided: May 10, 1960.

APPLICATION OF DAVID KAMERMAN, AS ATTORNEY AND COUNSELOR AT LAW OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, PETITIONER-APPELLANT, FOR AN ADJUDICATION OF SAID ATTORNEY'S RIGHTS IN THE ACTION OF JBP HOLDING CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Author: Herlands

Before MOORE, Circuit Judge, and SMITH and HERLANDS, District Judges.

HERLANDS, District Judge.

The dispositive question upon this appeal is whether the appellant, an attorney, may have an attorney's lien for his professional services computed on the basis of quantum meruit despite the fact arguendo that his written retainer agreement with the respondent, pursuant to which he rendered the services, was champertous.

The appellant (referred to herein as the "petitioner") is a certified public accountant and a member of the Bar of the State of New York, with offices in New York City. The respondent, JBP Corporation (a Virginia corporation, hereinafter referred to as "JBP"), was one of the petitioner's accounting clients since 1946. As part of his accounting services, the petitioner prepared JBP's federal income tax return for the fiscal year ending February 28, 1951; and JBP paid the tax indicated therein.

In 1953, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue assessed a deficiency in income tax due for said period. With interest, this amounted to $17,491.77. On July 20, 1953, an application for claim for refund was prepared by the petitioner, as JBP's accountant, and filed by JBP. The claim for refund was rejected on April 5, 1956. On October 15, 1956, the Appellate Division of the Regional Commissioner's Office affirmed the rejection of the refund claim.

About October 22, 1956, JBP's president, Joseph Shapiro, signed a letter agreement retaining the petitioner as attorney to prosecute an action for tax refund. The retainer agreement read as follows:

"David Kamerman

"Certified Public Accountant

"27 William Street

"New York

-

"WHitehall 3-5616

"October 22, ...


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