Two attorneys in downtown Graham are fighting over who should get to keep a $28,000 retainer fee that a client paid last year.
Now the client, Gary Nelson Price of 820 Hartley Hill Court, High Point, has filed a lawsuit in Alamance County superior court, asking a judge to force McMillion Law to turn over the $28,000 retainer he paid the firm last year to defend him in a criminal case that is currently pending in Cumberland County. McMillion Law has its office at 200 North Main Street in Graham, based on the lawsuit Price filed two weeks ago in superior court.
Fayetteville police charged Price, 63, white male, last year with felony indecent liberties with a child, according to the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.
Price claims to have followed his attorneys’ advice last year – to retire from being an IRS agent – and that the legal fees he paid to McMillion Law “essentially drained his savings,” according to his suit.
Meanwhile, one of the firm’s attorneys, Taylor Dant, who was assigned to Price’s case later struck out on her own, but McMillion has refused to split the $28,000 retainer with Dant. Now a solo practitioner, Dant has an office at 24 Northwest Court Square, Unit 202, in downtown Graham, according to the lawsuit.
Price claims he attempted he initially attempted to negotiate with McMillion Law to recoup the $28,000 retainer after Dant struck out on her own. “When Plaintiff Price attempted to discuss the fee with defendants, [Jeffrey McMillion and his firm, McMillion Law] stated that the flat fee was ‘earned upon receipt,’ and that if Price was not happy with his representation,” the firm would return $2,000 to him, the complaint states.
Dant has been solely responsible for representing Price in the case since May 2021 and has traveled to Cumberland County “almost every month for almost a year” since she took over his case, according to the suit Price has filed in Alamance County superior court.
Dant also wrote to McMillion, asking her former employer to discuss splitting Price’s $28,000 retainer, but the “defendants refused every discussion… stating that Attorney Dant had been paid and that she was ‘double dipping from the pot,’” Price alleges in his lawsuit.
Instead, McMillion supposedly sent Dant a “highly emotional” response that contained “falsified and/or misconstrued” information and included “around 12 pages of inappropriate personal attacks,” the complaint states.
Price subsequently filed a complaint about McMillion’s refusal to return the $28,000 retainer fee with the State Bar, which is responsible for licensing and overseeing attorneys in North Carolina, as well as resolving attorney/client fee disputes.
Price claims that Jeffrey McMillion and his firm, McMillion Law, “used their knowledge of the law to gain an upper hand in the negotiations with the North Carolina Bar Fee dispute against Plaintiff Price, who is not an attorney.” Price alleges that McMillion and his firm knowingly converted his money for their own use “knowing that the case was complex, long, and far from Alamance County” and knowing that Price had retired and would be unable to continue paying Dant’s legal fees.
An initial hearing in the civil suit that Price has filed in Alamance County superior court is currently set for April 25. The file indicates that Price’s criminal case is scheduled to go to trial in Cumberland County in June of this year.
Dant is representing Price for the criminal case in Cumberland County as well as his civil suit against McMillion Law. McMillion had not filed a response by press time.