Attorney sues attorney, claiming breach of contract

By Ed Runyan


Warren attorney Roger Bauer has filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court, saying that Atty. Martin F. White is improperly refusing to share the proceeds of a $13.9 million payout that a jury awarded last week.

White, when reached by telephone Friday, said he had not seen the suit and would refrain from commenting.

The lawsuit, filed by Atty. Michael D. Rossi of Warren, says Bauer and White agreed several years ago that they would evenly split counsel fees arising from any cases Bauer referred to White.

The agreement called for Bauer and White to remain jointly responsible for all tasks required to move the case forward but for White to assume “formal legal representation” of those clients, the suit said.

For a time, fees were divided evenly.

But in June 2009, White “informed Bauer that they would not be dividing any counsel fee” for the case White had filed in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court against Dr. Tara Shipman, the estate of Dr. Edmundo B. Salero and others, the suit said.

The stated reason for not dividing fees in that case was that doing so would have been improper under the Lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility, the suit said.

The agreement between the two attorneys is enforceable regardless of issues relating to the Code of Professional Responsibility, the suit said.

The suit seeks at least $25,000.

A jury in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court awarded Haley Cobb, 10, of Leavittsburg, and her parents $13.9 million Oct. 21 for the malpractice of Dr. Shipman, of Cortland, while Dr. Shipman delivered Haley in Forum Health Trumbull Memorial Hospital in January 2000.

The family earlier had settled with the estate of Dr. Salero and Forum Health TMH for an undisclosed amount. Rossi said it is not clear how much in legal fees will be generated from the jury award and settlement.

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