SIOUX CITY -- A Sioux City law firm has sued a Hinton, Iowa, couple who recently reached a $7.5 million settlement from the City of Sioux City, claiming the two owe the firm more than $2.5 million.
Stan Munger said that Chad and Rosanne Plante signed a contract with Munger, Reinschmidt & Denne in December 2016 in which they agreed to a one-third contingency fee that would entitle the law firm to receive a third of the gross settlement amount if their claims against the city pertaining to a 2016 crash involving a city bus were settled without filing a lawsuit against the city.
In his lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Woodbury County District Court, Munger said the settlement agreement was reached through mediation, and the gross recovery under the fee agreement with the Plantes is more than $7.6 million.
Munger said he has offered to distribute the Plantes' settlement share, which totals more than $4.8 million, to them from a trust account that is holding more than $7.1 million from the settlement, but he is still awaiting instructions from them about making that distribution.
According to Munger, the Plantes informed him that he may take a $250,000 fee from the trust account but they will not authorize him to take the rest of the fee because the contingency fee agreement "is against public policy."
Rosanne Plante said Wednesday that she and her husband are current in their payments of all costs and expenses.
"My husband and I have paid Mr. Munger's law firm $380,000, and he has apparently determined that is not sufficient and has filed a lawsuit," said Plante, who is a lawyer.
The Plantes have breached the contract "by refusing to live up to its material term that (the Plantes) pay (the firm) 1/3 of the gross recovery of the settlement amount," Munger said in the lawsuit.
The Sioux City Council on Aug. 6 approved the $7.5 million settlement -- one of the largest individual settlements in city history -- for injuries Chad Plante sustained in the November 2016 crash in which a transit bus struck his Chevrolet Tahoe at the intersection of Lewis Boulevard and Outer Drive. Plante's injuries included two broken legs and a brain injury. He was in a coma for several weeks and has undergone months of rehabilitation.
The settlement was in addition to approximately $180,000 the city had paid the Plantes in January 2017 to cover out-of-pocket expenses, health insurance premiums, lost wages and other requested expenses.
In addition to the one-third contingency Munger said the firm is owed, the firm is seeking a judgment ordering the Plantes to pay interest on all past due amounts.