SIOUX CITY -- A Hinton, Iowa, couple has appealed a judge's ruling that they must pay a Sioux City lawyer more than $2.1 million for representing them in talks that resulted in a $7.5 million settlement with the city of Sioux City.
Bruce Johnson, a West Des Moines attorney representing Chad and Rosanne Plante, filed notice Monday in Woodbury County District Court that they are appealing the March 4 ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court. The notice does not say on what grounds the appeal is based upon.
District Judge Nancy Whittenburg had ruled that Sioux City attorney Stan Munger's attorney fee contract with the Plantes was "reasonable and valid" and he was entitled to receive 33 percent of the settlement the city paid to them to resolve claims from a bus crash that caused serious injuries to Chad Plante.
The Plantes had claimed that Munger was seeking to collect an unreasonable fee and expenses, and they had sought to have the contract declared void an unenforceable.
The Plantes in August settled their claims with the city in connection with a 2016 crash in which a city bus struck Chad Plante's vehicle at the intersection of Lewis Boulevard and Outer Drive.
Munger sued the Plantes in September, saying that the couple had breached their contract in which they agreed to a one-third contingency fee, entitling his firm to receive a third of the gross settlement amount if their claims against the city were settled without filing a lawsuit. The settlement was reached through mediation.
Under terms of the agreement, Munger said, his firm was owed more than $2.5 million for its share of the settlement, plus fees and interest.
The Plantes had argued that Munger was entitled to only a fraction of that amount and authorized him to withdraw $380,000 from a trust account holding the settlement funds, exceeding the total of $37,353 that the firm had tallied for legal work.
Whittenburg entered a judgment of $2,179,456 -- Munger's share of the settlement, minus the $380,000 the Plantes have already paid.