JOSEPH S. MULROY, Petitioner and Appellee,
MORGAN PIERCE, PLLP, Respondent and Appellant.
Submitted on Briefs: November 30, 2016
FROM: District Court of the Nineteenth Judicial District, In
and For the County of Lincoln, Cause No. DV 15-149 Honorable
James B. Wheelis, Presiding Judge COUNSEL OF RECORD:
Appellant: Elizabeth A. Brennan, Brennan Law & Mediation,
PLLC, Missoula, Montana.
Appellee: Amy N. Guth, Attorney at Law, Libby, Montana.
JEREMIAH SHEA Justice.
Morgan Pierce, PLLP, appeals a Nineteenth Judicial District
Court, Lincoln County, order granting Joseph S. Mulroy's
motion for summary judgment that an attorney's lien
recorded by Morgan Pierce against real property Mulroy
purchased from Morgan Pierce's client, Sheri Lee, is
invalid. We address the following dispositive issue:
the District Court erred in holding that the signed fee
agreement between Morgan Pierce and Lee did not create a lien
AND FACTUAL BACKGROUND
In December 2014, Lee hired Morgan Pierce, a Missoula-based
law firm, to represent her in a bankruptcy proceeding. Lee
and Morgan Pierce entered into a fee agreement, which
provided, in relevant part:
If Client has any legal interest in any real estate when the
bankruptcy petition is filed, Client agrees and understands
that Attorney's post-petition services will benefit that
real estate. Therefore, Client acknowledges and consents to
Attorney's Lien on such property, and consents to the
post-petition filing of a Notice of Attorney's Lien
against any and all real property owned at the time the case
26, 2015, Morgan Pierce filed a notice of an attorney's
lien against five pieces of Lee's real property. The lien
notice provided, in relevant part:
This lien is claimed for legal services rendered by Morgan
Pierce, PLLP in 2014-15 pursuant to a Representation and
Legal Services Agreement dated December 6, 2014 for legal
services and costs advanced in Ms. Lee's Chapter 13
bankruptcy proceedings and related matters . . . . The
reasonable value of the services is up to $25, 000.
On May 28, 2015, Mulroy and Lee entered into an amended
buy-sell agreement for two of the pieces of property against
which Morgan Pierce's lien was recorded. As part of the
buy-sell agreement, Mulroy agreed to pay debts owed by Lee to
the Whitefish Credit Union and to Attorney William Hileman,
Jr. The buy-sell agreement is silent regarding ...