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Bank of America, N.A. v. Prestige Imports, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-087-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   15-P-248                                        Appeals Court   BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.[1]  vs.  PRESTIGE IMPORTS, INC., & others.[2]     No. 15-P-248.   Norfolk.     January 11, 2016. – July 20, 2016.   Present:  Grainger, Rubin, & Milkey, JJ.     Attorney at Law, Attorney-client relationship, Lien, Contingent fee agreement, Withdrawal.  Damages, Quantum meruit.     Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on February 1, 1991.   A motion to adjudicate an attorney’s lien, filed on December 9, 2013, was heard by Patrick F. Brady, J.   Steven J. Bolotin for George Deptula. Timothy J. Fazio (Jennifer L. Morse with him) for the defendants.     RUBIN, J.  In 1992, attorney George Deptula agreed to represent Prestige Imports, Inc., and its principals, Helmut Schmidt and his wife Renate Schmidt[3] (collectively, Prestige), on a contingent fee basis in litigation with South Shore Bank and, later, its acquirer, Bank of America, N.A. (Bank of America), in exchange for a nonrefundable retainer and a percentage of any recovery on Prestige’s counterclaims.[4]  After victories at two trials and a reversal of those victories by this court, see Bank of America, N.A. v. Prestige Imports, Inc., 75 Mass. App. Ct. 741 (2009) (Prestige Imports), Deptula withdrew from the case without Prestige’s consent in April, 2010.  Represented by different counsel, Prestige won a judgment of $ 27,031,568.12, including statutory interest, at a third trial.  While that judgment was on appeal at this court, Deptula filed a notice of attorney’s fees lien pursuant to G. L. c. 221, § 50.  Prestige brought a motion to adjudicate this lien, arguing that Deptula forfeited it by withdrawing without Prestige’s consent and without good cause.  After a jury-waived trial, a Superior Court judge — who was also the trial judge for the third trial in the underlying litigation — ordered the entry of judgment for Prestige.  Deptula appealed that judgment and, for the reasons stated infra, we reverse. Background.  The litigation between Bank of America and Prestige involved claims by Bank of America for repayment of loans, and counterclaims by Prestige chiefly alleging Uniform Commercial Code violations, violation of G. L. c. 93A, and negligence, arising out of Bank of America’s handling of certain checks and its issuance of treasurer’s checks by which the comptroller of Prestige embezzled substantial funds from Prestige.  Detailed facts about that litigation are set forth in Prestige Imports, supra at 742-752.  We summarize here […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 20, 2016 at 4:26 pm

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