Martello v. Santana, No. 12-5729 (6th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Martello, a doctor with a law degree, never passed the bar exam despite four attempts; in 1997 she passed the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination. In 1991, Martello started reviewing medical malpractice cases for Santana, who paid an hourly rate. She alleges that they changed the arrangement for three cases and that Santana wrote that he would pay Martello 20 percent of his fee if the case settled before filing and 25 percent if the case settled after filing suit. Martello alleges that the document was intended to cover future cases. Later, Santana sent Martello a letter stating that: Kentucky canons of ethics prohibit the payment of your fees for assisting … on a contingency basis … you will be billing us on an hourly basis. Martello claims that Santana told her to fabricate time to earn the equivalent of what she would have received under the contract. Martello was dissatisfied with what she received and sued. The district court determined that Martello’s contract claims were barred because the contracts were void as against public policy, while her fraud claims, even accepting tolling agreements, were barred by the statute of limitations. The Sixth Circuit affirmed.