Hawkins Parnell Secures Dismissal of Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claims for a California Attorney

March 23, 2023 – Press Release

March 23, 2023 (Atlanta, GA) – Christine Mast and Bryan Grantham of Hawkins Parnell & Young prevailed on a motion to dismiss a breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit in federal court against a California attorney over the plaintiffs' quest to obtain a hemp farm license in Georgia.

In this case, removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia from Candler County, Georgia, the plaintiffs and the attorney-client entered into a retainer agreement whereby the attorney agreed to provide certain regulatory services for the plaintiffs. In the underlying representation, the attorney sent a retainer agreement to one of the plaintiffs and asked him to wire the retainer fee to the attorney's firm. The retainer agreement included a mandatory arbitration provision.

Hawkins Parnell filed a motion to dismiss and to enforce the arbitration agreement because the plaintiff sent a retainer fee, and the attorney performed work on the file on behalf of the plaintiff. The plaintiffs argued that since they did not sign the agreement, there was no meeting of the minds as to the text and terms of the retainer agreement. The court disagreed and held that even though the retainer agreement was not signed, it was clear that the parties' conduct formed a binding contract. The court accepted the retainer agreement's arbitration provision as enforceable and dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiff.