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MARRERO v. CHRISTIANO

June 7, 1983

Genaro MARRERO, Plaintiff,
v.
Police Officer CHRISTIANO, the City of New York, and Two Police Officers Sued Herein as "John Doe" Since Names Are Unknown, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MOTLEY

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

MOTLEY, Chief Judge.

 This is an action for damages brought pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-1988. Plaintiff Genaro Marrero (Marrero) alleges that he was falsely arrested and beaten. He claims to have sustained physical and other injuries, and seeks $500,000.00 in compensatory, as well as $150,000.00 in punitive, damages. *fn1" The case came before the court on April 15, 1983 on the motion of Piken & Piken, P.C. (the Law Firm), attorneys for Marrero, for an order relieving it as counsel for Marrero and for an order fixing a lien in its favor on Marrero's eventual recovery, if any, in this action.

 The court granted the Law Firm's motion to withdraw, and reserved decision on the motion for a lien. For the reasons set forth below, the motion for an order fixing a lien in favor of the Law Firm is denied.

 BACKGROUND:

 The Law Firm asserts that, after it had obtained all of plaintiff's medical records and had responded to interrogatories propounded by defendants, it commenced settlement negotiations with defendants. *fn2" According to the Law Firm, defendants made an offer of settlement in the amount of $3,000.00, including attorneys' fees. The Law Firm states that it communicated the $3,000.00 settlement offer to Marrero, recommending that Marrero accept the settlement. *fn3" The Law Firm characterizes the alleged $3,000.00 offer as "the best possible settlement offer. . . ." *fn4" Marrero asserts that, at the time that the settlement offer was communicated to him, the Law Firm informed him that, if he "did not accep[t] the offer, [the Law Firm was] ready to be relieve[d] as [his] attorney." *fn5" Marrero refused to accept the offer.

 The Law Firm then brought on the instant motion, stating that "[Marrero] is being uncooperative and . . . it would be in everyone's best interest if we did not continue to represent him in this action." *fn6" The Law Firm contends, nonetheless, that it is entitled to a lien on any eventual recovery in this action. It seeks a lien in the minimum amount of $1,336.00, calculated on the basis of an alleged contingent fee arrangement with Marrero *fn7" and the $3,000.00 settlement offer.

 DISCUSSION:

 A federal court may, in its discretion, exercise ancillary jurisdiction to hear fee disputes and lien claims between litigants and their attorneys when the dispute relates to the main action, regardless of the jurisdictional basis of the main action.

 This power resides in the federal court as ancillary to its conduct of the litigation.

 National Equipment Rental, Ltd. v. Mercury Typesetting Co., 323 F.2d 784, 786 (2d Cir.1963).

 The termination of relations between a party in litigation in a federal court and his attorney is a matter relating to the protection of the court's own officers. . . .

 Id. at 786 n. 1. See also Jenkins v. Weinshienk, 670 F.2d 915, 918 (10th Cir. 1982); In re Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings, 520 F. Supp. 635, 649 (D.Minn. 1981); and Moore v. Telfon Communications Corp., 589 F.2d 959, 967 (9th Cir.1978).

 The court has decided to exercise its ancillary jurisdiction to determine the Law Firm's claim for a lien. The instant claim is governed by New York law. See Cook v. Moran Atlantic Towing Corp., 79 F.R.D. 392, 394 (S.D.N.Y.1978); and ...


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