Balsbaugh described graphically his state of frenzy on March 22, 1972 when he signed the agreement and release. It was then he learned that both Cohen and Schnell left him alone obligated for the debt to the firm. (Tr. 661, 664.)
And finally plaintiffs would have their releases of the firm declared void on the grounds that such releases violated the Code of Professional Responsibility by which defendant firm is bound. (Ethical Canon 6-6 and Disciplinary Rule 6-102.) Cohen, of course, cannot be asserting that to obtain a release from a client is unethical. He and his partners are and have been over the years taking such releases. (Def. Ex. 38, Tr. 893-96.) Whatever validity there may or may not be to Cohen's views on releases in malpractice cases is no more relevant here than Ethical Canon 6-6 and Disciplinary Rule 6-102, supra, because as has been found there was no malpractice on the part of the firm in this case.
I find the releases given by the plaintiffs to be valid and binding.
Defendant Firm's Counterclaims
Defendant firm by its counterclaims seeks to recover over $193,000 as earned fees and $18,289.22 paid by the firm as expenses for plaintiffs. Defendant firm on behalf of Surrey seeks to recover from Cohen his $25,000 note to Surrey.
By holding valid the agreements and general releases entered into between the plaintiffs and the firm, the extent of the counterclaims is undercut. Defendant firm is entitled only to the amounts it contracted for in those agreements and releases. In addition, Surrey is entitled to recover on the note.
Those agreements and releases evidence plaintiffs' liability to the firm and Surrey. A hearing on damages claimed by the firm will be set.
This opinion constitutes the Court's findings of fact and conclusions. Rule 52(a), Fed. Rules of Civil Procedure. An appropriate order is this day being entered.
WILLIAM B. JONES / CHIEF JUDGE [EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 427 F. Supp.]
This action having been tried by the Court without a jury and the Court having filed herein its opinion containing its findings of fact and conclusions of law, and for the reasons stated in said opinion, it is this day of March, 1977,
ORDERED that plaintiffs' complaint be and the same is hereby dismissed with prejudice;
FURTHER ORDERED that on the question of liability judgment is entered herein in favor of defendant; and
FURTHER ORDERED that a hearing on damages claimed by the defendant firm will be set after meeting with counsel.
WILLIAM B. JONES / CHIEF JUDGE