1. The defendants demurred on the ground that the petition shows on its face that the Superior Court of McDuffie County does not have jurisdiction of the cause of action under Code § 94-1101. Subsequent to the filing and certifying of the bill of exceptions an amendment to the petition was offered and allowed setting out the county where various acts stated in the petition allegedly took place. Since the trial court had jurisdiction in allowing the amendment to the petition, Ware v. Martin, 208 Ga. 330 (3) (66 S.E.2d 737), the ruling excepted to in the bill of exceptions, not going to the petition as amended, cannot become the "law of the case." In view of the amendment, the assignment of error in this bill of exceptions as to jurisdiction has become moot and reversal would not benefit the plaintiff in error. Gillon v. Johns, 105 Ga.App. 599, 600 (125 S.E.2d 70).
2. The defendants concede that a client who employs an attorney and afterwards discharges him has an obligation to pay the attorney quantum meruit for services rendered and, therefore, the client's refusal to pay the attorney would be wrongful; and that a third person who induces the client to refuse to pay the attorney would be a wrongdoer and subject to liability if the
The right of the attorney to practice law is property and the attorney is said to have a "property" in his fees and emoluments by the common law or by contract expressed or implied with his client. Ex Parte Law, 15 Fed. Cases 3, Case No. 8126; 35 Ga. 285, 293, 294; 2 EGL 551, § 119.
"The right of enjoyment of private property being an absolute right of every citizen, every act of another which unlawfully interferes with such enjoyment is a tort for which an action shall lie." Code § 105-1401. "In all cases he who maliciously procures an injury to be done to another, whether it is an actionable wrong or a breach of contract, is a joint wrongdoer and may be sued either alone or jointly with the actor." Code § 105-1207. "When the law requires one . . . to forbear the doing of that which may injure another, though no action be given in express terms, upon the accrual of damage the injured party may recover." Code § 105-103.
While liability for procuring the breach of a contract or interfering with the performance of a contract is based upon property rights in the contract, Luke v. DuPree, 158 Ga. 590,
The client had the right to terminate the attorney's employment, and in discharging the attorney he committed no wrong. White v. Aiken, 197 Ga. 29 (2) (28 S.E.2d 263); Dorsey v. Edge, 75 Ga.App. 388, 392 (43 S.E.2d 425). The allegations of the petition, however, show more than the discharge of the attorney by the client. The defendants knowingly induced the client, and conspired with him, to claim falsely that he had never employed the attorney. The defendants and the client conspired in writing a letter by which the client repudiated his employment of the attorney. The defendants, aided by the client, knowingly sought to establish falsely, by means of a motion asking the court to dismiss the suit against them, that the client had never employed the attorney and was not authorized to bring the suit. These acts of conspiracy if successful would have wrongfully defeated the attorney's right to compensation based on quantum
"The gist of the action [for conspiracy] is not the conspiracy alleged, but the tort committed against the plaintiff and the damage thereby done." Davidson v. Collier, 104 Ga.App. 546, 550 (122 S.E.2d 465). "It is immaterial whether the act which it is alleged the defendants intended to do was or was not unlawful, oppressive or immoral. `Conspiracy is the combination of two or more persons to do (a) something that is unlawful, oppressive, or immoral; or (b) something that is not unlawful, oppressive, or immoral, by unlawful, oppressive, or immoral means. . . '" Woodruff v. Hughes, 2 Ga.App. 361, 366 (58 SE 551); Luke v. DuPree, 158 Ga. 590, 596, supra; Cook v. Robinson, 216 Ga. 328 (116 S.E.2d 742); Davidson v. Collier, supra; 7 CJS 836, 837, § 53.
Code § 105-1401 makes the acts which interfere with the right of enjoyment of property themselves tortious and unlawful. Thus if the purpose of the alleged conspiracy was to interfere with the attorney's employment (which is unlawful) or if the purpose was to accomplish the discharge of the attorney (which is not unlawful) by means of the unlawful interference, the gist of a conspiracy is alleged.
3. Special demurrers object that more particulars respecting Hicks' claim, the attorney-client contract, and the date of filing
The special demurrer on the ground that the facts alleged would not authorize the recovery of punitive damages is without merit. Code § 105-2002; Walker v. Grand International Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, 186 Ga. 811, 821 (199 SE 146).
The trial court did not err in overruling the general and special demurrers.
Judgment affirmed. Bell, P. J., and Pannell, J., concur.