Triple Damages Awarded in Dorchester Legal Malpractice Case
Our client, Giovanni, saved up and purchased a condo in Dorchester. Shortly thereafter problems arose between Giovanni and the other two condominium owners in the three family Dorchester building. The other owners changed the rules, excluded Giovanni from condominium association meetings, arbitrally raised the monthly condominium fees and then filed suit against Giovanni when he withheld condo fees.
As a result of the lawsuit, Giovanni’s mortgage bank was brought into the case and eventually foreclosed on the mortgage because Giovanni was not complying with the conditions of the mortgage – that he pay condominium fees. This resulted in Giovanni loosing his condo. Part of the foreclosure was because of attorney fees that were imposed on Giovanni. His Lynn lawyer failed to stop the case or resolve it on his behalf.
Underlying Superior Court Case and Legal Malpractice
The attorney filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court. However, he then began a series of failures to communicate with Giovanni. His excuses included a death in the family, illnesses in the family, and problems with the family. While perhaps all true, the Lynn attorney was clearly not focusing on Giovanni’s case. Two years after filing suit, discovery against the other condo owners had not been completed.
In March 2009 there was a mediation in which the Lynn attorney lied to and misled Giovanni. In addition to making up settlement numbers, he informed Giovanni that monies had been paid towards a settlement by the defendants; they had not. Giovanni reported the Lynn attorney to the Board of Bar Overseers.
Nevertheless, the Lynn attorney failed to follow up after he defaulted and, after three years of mismanagement and neglect, allowed Giovanni’s case to go into default. As a result, Giovanni lost his condominium.
93A Lawsuit in Dorchester
Giovanni retained our office and in May 2013. We attempted to get the original file, or a copy of the same, however, the Lynn attorney refused. We served the Lynn attorney with a 93A Demand letter. The Lynn attorney failed to respond, never mind make a reasonable offer of settlement. Wherefore, we filed suit. Given the value of the case, that is the equity in the condominium, we filed suit in small claims court. On December 3, 2013, the Court entered judgment for the statutory amount of $7,000, plus triple damages, plus interest, plus $4,800 in attorney fees, for a total of $26,298.69.
Considering the statutory maximum for a claim in Small Claims Court is $7,000, this was an excellent result.
Experienced Legal Malpractice Attorney
This case demonstrates the need for an experienced legal malpractice attorney. From the time Giovanni retained our office to the time of judgment was only seven months. In a case that we got no cooperation from the defendant, we still were able to construct sufficient evidence to get triple damages under the Consumer Protection Act, M.G.L. 93A. Finally, we were able to get attorney fees ordered against the negligent attorney.