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Biotechpharma, LLC v. Ludwig & Robinson, PLLC

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

September 4, 2014

BIOTECHPHARMA, LLC, et al., APPELLANTS,
v.
LUDWIG & ROBINSON, PLLC, APPELLEE

Argued October 31, 2013

Page 987

Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CAB-884-13). (Hon. Brian F. Holeman, Trial Judge).

Albert Wilson, Jr., for appellants.

Robert W. Ludwig, with whom Salvatore Scanio, James E. Tompert, and W. Clifton Holmes were on the brief, for appellee.

Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, Donna M. Murasky, Deputy Solicitor General, and James C. McKay, Jr., Senior Assistant Attorney General, filed a brief for the District of Columbia, amicus curiae, in support of this court's jurisdiction over the present appeal.

Before FISHER and BLACKBURNE-RIGSBY, Associate Judges, and KING, Senior Judge.

OPINION

Page 988

Fisher, Associate Judge

Appellants--BiotechPharma, LLC; Converting Biophile Laboratories, Inc.; and Dr. Raouf Albert Guirguis (collectively " BTP" )--are former clients of appellee Ludwig & Robinson, PLLC (" L& R" ), a law firm. L& R sued BTP to collect unpaid legal fees, and BTP moved to stay the litigation and compel arbitration. After the trial court denied the motion, BTP brought this interlocutory appeal, arguing mainly that District of Columbia Bar Rule XIII[1] obligates L& R to arbitrate the fee dispute. We agree with BTP, reverse the trial court's order, and remand the case with instructions to compel arbitration.

I. Procedural and Factual Background

BTP, a biotechnology firm, retained L& R as counsel in March 2011 to help resolve a trade secret dispute. The dispute was settled in May 2012, L& R having billed BTP on a monthly basis during the course of its representation. By June 2012 L& R claimed that BTP owed approximately

Page 989

$1.7 million in outstanding legal fees, disbursements, and expenses. In January 2013 L& R brought ...


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