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Schernikau v. Williamson

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division III

January 24, 2018

WILLIAM SCHERNIKAU AND BETTIE SCHERNIKAU APPELLANTS
v.
BEAU WILLIAMSON, ANGELA WILLIAMSON, AND JEREMIAH DUANE PEARSON APPELLEES

         APPEAL FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT [NO. 04CV-15-64] HONORABLE XOLLIE DUNCAN, JUDGE

          Johnson, Vorhees and Martucci Law Firm, by: Glenn Gulick, for appellant.

          One brief only.

          PHILLIP T. WHITEAKER, JUDGE.

         In this one-brief appeal, appellants William and Bettie Schernikau contend that the Benton County Circuit Court erred in enforcing an attorney's lien in favor of appellee Jeremiah Pearson. Because of multiple problems with the record, abstract, and addendum, however, we are unable to reach the merits of the Schernikaus' arguments at this time.

         I. Background

         This case originally began as a personal-injury case arising out of a motor-vehicle accident allegedly caused by appellee Beau Williamson[1] in June 2012. The Schernikaus were initially represented by appellee Pearson. At some point, the Schernikaus terminated Pearson's employment, and they hired their current counsel, Glenn Gulick, who settled the case in July 2016. It is unclear from the record and addendum exactly what transpired between the two attorneys over the next few weeks, but Gulick wrote to Pearson in August 2016 to "advise as to the amount of quantum meruit claim [he was] asserting for attorney's fees." Apparently, Pearson did not respond to this communication.

         Gulick, on behalf of the Schernikaus, subsequently filed a "Motion to Determine Attorney's Lien" in September 2016, asking the circuit court to "adjudicat[e] the alleged lien of Jeremiah Pearson who was discharged by plaintiffs prior to suit being filed in this case." Pearson responded and stated that the Schernikaus were "made aware of his right to claim his attorney's lien and expenses in a letter dated January 3, 2014." Pearson purported to attach a copy of this letter as exhibit A, but the letter does not appear in the record.

         At a hearing on the Schernikaus' motion, neither attorney called witnesses, but the court and counsel discussed the fact that the Schernikaus had given videotaped depositions and that the court had a copy of the videotapes and the transcripts of those depositions:

Court: All right, counsel, tell me how you want to proceed. Mr. Gulick, I don't know if you want to call witnesses, if you just want to-I know you left for my office a notebook that looks about like that.
Gulick: Yes, Your Honor. When we had a telephone conference with the Court,-
Court: Uh-huh.
Gulick: -you had indicated a preference that-that depositions be taken and submitted to the Court for consideration. We-we've done that. It-everybody's been-I think it's important that a deposition has been ...

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