An unpublished opinion of the North Carolina Court of Appeals does not constitute controlling legal authority. Citation is disfavored, but may be permitted in accordance with the provisions of Rule 30(e)(3) of the North Carolina Rules of Appellate Proced ure.

NO. COA03-507
                                          &nb sp;         


Filed: 17 February 2004


v .                         Wake County
                            No. 00 CVD 13910

    Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 21 January 2003 by Judge Jane P. Gray in Wake County District Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 28 January 2004.

    Strickland, Harris & Hilton, P.A., by Nelson G. Harris, for plaintiff-appellant.

    Powell & Axford, by Chad E. Axford, for defendant-appellee.

    LEVINSON, Judge.

    Strickland, Harris & Hilton, P.A. (plaintiff) appeals from an order dismissing its claims and vacating a judgment against defendant Tanya Aboul-Hosn. We reverse.
    In March 1998, defendant hired the plaintiff law firm according to a contingency fee contract. After plaintiff completed approximately ninety percent of the work necessary to settle defendant's claim, defendant fired plaintiff in September 1999 and hired the law firm of Wilson & Waller as replacement counsel. Wilson & Waller settled defendant's personal injury claim for $59,500 in December 1999. Defendant did not pay plaintiff for the legal services it provided to her.     The trial court awarded plaintiff a judgement of $18,438.35 with interest, which represented ninety percent of one-third of plaintiff's recovery and costs. However, the trial court later set aside this judgment and dismissed plaintiff's claim, concluding that plaintiff did not sue the proper party for recovery in quantum meruit. Plaintiff appeals.

    The trial court vacated its judgment for plaintiff after concluding “[t]he plaintiff in this matter should have sought to recover the reasonable value of his services from the attorney and/or firm [Wilson & Waller] who achieved the final disposition on behalf of this Defendant in her personal injury action.” However, this Court recently held that a discharged law firm “has a viable claim in North Carolina in quantum meruit against the former client or its subsequent representative” for payment. Guess v. Parrott, ___ N.C. App. ___, ___, 585 S.E.2d 464, 468 (2003). The trial court erred when it concluded that plaintiff could only recover payment from Wilson & Waller, the subsequent law firm, and could not seek payment from defendant, its former client. Accordingly, the trial court's order vacating the judgment for plaintiff is
    Judges HUNTER and McCULLOUGH concur.
    Report per Rule 30(e).

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