Jessup & Conroy, P.C. v. Seguin

Pro se Defendant Mary Y. Seguin challenged a Superior Court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Plaintiff Jessup & Conroy, P.C. (the law firm), on her counterclaim in this collection action. In late 2001, Seguin retained the law firm to represent her in two Rhode Island Family Court matters, a divorce action involving her former husband, Marc Seguin, and a paternity action involving her former boss at a prior place of employment. The law firm entered its appearance in both cases. Soon thereafter, Defendant received a large cash settlement from her former employer. Mr. Seguin successfully entreated a Family Court justice to impound the settlement as a marital asset and to place the funds in an escrow account with the children's guardian ad litem. Over the next year, litigation ensued in both Family Court matters; ultimately, the law firm withdrew as counsel for Defendant in the two cases, citing Defendant's repeated requests that the law firm file baseless motions, as well as her refusal to pay over $30,000 in legal fees for services rendered. Defendant and her former husband signed an addendum to their property-settlement agreement, which stipulated that any funds held in escrow were to be deposited in equal shares into irrevocable trusts established for the benefit of the minor daughter fathered by Mr. Seguin. That August, both Seguin and Mr. Seguin requested, via correspondence to the law firm, that the law firm release all escrowed funds to them personally. However, the law firm declined to honor that request based on the addendum's provision that the escrow funds be deposited into irrevocable trusts. After a repeated request from Defendant and her former husband coupled with the imposition of a Family Court sanction upon Defendant in the paternity action, the law firm filed a motion for instructions in the divorce action, seeking guidance from the Family Court in regard to distribution of the escrow funds at issue. A Family Court justice ordered the law firm to provide an accounting of the funds and to deposit them into irrevocable trusts as set forth in the addendum. The law firm complied by providing an accounting of the funds and deposited the money into two trust accounts. Subsequently, the law firm filed a complaint against Defendant seeking to recover unpaid legal fees. In response, Defendant filed an answer, as well as a counterclaim, setting forth fifteen counts against the law firm, including: (1) false advertising; (2) deceptive trade practices; (3) fraud; (4) wire fraud; (5) mail fraud; (6) RICO violations; (7) breach of fiduciary duty; (8) breach of fiduciary duty by trustee; (9) breach of trust; (10) grand theft; (11) tampering with/altering legal records; (12) legal malpractice; (13) negligence; (14) breach of contract; and (15) breach of an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. After hearing from both parties, the motion justice concluded that Defendant had failed to meet her burden in opposing Plaintiff's motion. Defendant appealed. After its review, the Supreme Court affirmed, finding Defendant indeed failed to meet her burden to defeat Plaintiff's motion. View "Jessup & Conroy, P.C. v. Seguin" on Justia Law