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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Representing Merita and Marvin Bridges, Oscar Telfair secured a $86,000 settlement in a lawsuit against the makers of the Bridgeses’ house. Telfair had undertaken his representation pursuant to an oral contingent fee contract, and so got a $25,638 judgment, based in quantum meruit, against the Bridgeses for the costs of settling the case. Telfair also got a $10,250 judgment for attorneys’ fees spent pursuing the quantum meruit claim. The Bridgeses filed a counterclaim against Telfair and his law firm having to do with Telfair’s representation of them in an unrelated personal injury lawsuit. The couple alleged Telfair misappropriated settlement funds in that case. A jury awarded the Bridgeses $2,457 in damages and $10,250 in attorneys’ fees, and judgment was entered accordingly. While the lawsuit was pending, the trial court directed the law firm to deposit $45,000 of the $86,000 settlement into the court’s registry. After the judgment was entered, the trial court ordered that $39,987 be paid back to Telfair’s law firm. Two weeks later, however, the trial court ordered the firm to pay the same amount back into the trial court registry by June 17. The firm did not return the funds. On motion from the Bridgeses, this court again ordered the firm to pay the money into the trial court’s registry, informing the firm that failure to do so might result in contempt proceedings. Without paying the money, the law firm filed a motion for reconsideration, which was based on the trial court’s alleged lack of jurisdiction. This court denied that motion. The firm then filed a motion for rehearing on the denied motion for reconsideration. This motion was also overruled, and this court renewed its order for the funds to be deposited, again informing the firm about possible contempt proceedings. Again, the firm did not comply with the order. A show cause hearing was set, before which the firm deposited $13,500 into the trial court’s registry. At the show cause hearing, the firm, for the first time, informed this court that it did not have enough money to deposit the full amount ordered. Because no reason was given for their inability to pay or explain why the issue wasn’t raised earlier, this court took the potential contempt finding under advisement. HOLDING:Affirmed as modified. The acknowledges that though attorneys’ fees are usually only available when authorized by statute or contract, an equitable exception exists when a claimant is required to prosecute or defend litigation involving a third party as a consequence of a wrongful act of the defendant. The court notes that the exception is very narrow and applies only when a wrongful act requires the claimant to incur attorneys’ fees in prior litigation involving a third party. The court finds the exception inapplicable in this case because the Bridgeses do not seek attorneys’ fees from the prior litigation involving a third party. Instead, the attorneys’ fees they seek were incurred in the original litigation with the party alleged to have committed the wrongful act. The court modifies the trial court’s award, therefore, by deleting the $10,250 in attorneys’ fees awarded to the Bridges. Despite this finding, the court still findings Telfair’s law firm failed to comply with two of this court’s written orders directing it to pay $39,987 into the trial court’s registry The court further finds the firm did not provide a sufficient reason for why it did not comply the orders. As a result of its “dilatory conduct,” both the Bridgeses and this court have had to spend extra time and resources on this matter, which was unnecessary to resolving the issues on appeal. Consequently, the court finds the firm in contempt and fines the firm $500. OPINION:W.G. Arnot III, C.J.; Arnot, C.J., Wright and McCall, JJ.

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