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Gill v. Morrison Mahoney LLP

United States District Court, District of Massachusetts

June 16, 2014




Depending on how one counts, this legal malpractice action is either the fourth or fifth episode in plaintiffs’ war with lawyers. The plaintiffs are Michael J. Gill and The Mortgage Specialists, Inc. (“MSI”), a mortgage loan origination company of which Mr. Gill is president. Plaintiffs “retained [defendant] Morrison Mahoney LLP ... to handle various legal malpractice matters.” (Complaint, ¶ 8.) As described in the 66-page complaint, the first episode grew out of an apparently bitter divorce. That proceeding ultimately led to a claim for unpaid fees by one of the law firms that represented Mr. Gill and a malpractice counterclaim against several of his lawyers in that proceeding as well as allegations of conspiracy to churn fees against counsel for both parties. Mr. Gill “had retained successive counsel in his divorce case due to misconduct by various lawyers.” (Complaint, ¶ 11.) The second episode resulted from an Internal Revenue Service audit and the alleged failure of Mr. Gill’s attorneys and accountants to file necessary and correct documents to settle the tax dispute. The third episode also started with an audit, but this by the New Hampshire Department of Revenue. It involved an alleged leak and the failure of counsel to vigorously pursue the department as the source of the leak. The fourth followed an examination by the New Hampshire Banking Department of certain business practices of MSI. It appears that all of these matters remain unresolved, that in each Mr. Gill and MSI were represented by several lawyers, often serially, and that Mr. Gill found each of his lawyers wanting.

The genesis of this case, nominally the fifth episode, was plaintiffs’ engagement of Morrison Mahoney LLP, Nicholas P. Alexander and Eric Renner, lawyers at that firm, to investigate and prosecute the alleged malpractice of counsel who had represented Mr. Gill and MSI in all of these earlier proceedings. Now they are defendants in a malpractice action as well. This litigation has proceeded in the same manner as have the earlier ones. As I noted in my order of April 3, 2014, so far four attorneys have appeared seriatim on behalf of Mr. Gill only to withdraw their appearance shortly thereafter; at the moment Mr. Gill appears pro se. Five lawyers, augmented to six since the entry of that order, have appeared similarly on behalf of the corporate defendant, MSI. This history bears on both the conduct of the case before me and the disposition of several pending motions as follows.

1. Emergency motion of Attorney Amy Miller to withdraw appearance for MSI (Docket # 93)

The motion is allowed. Since Mr. Gill does not dispute that he terminated her employment by MSI, she can no longer represent the corporation.

2. Emergency motion of both plaintiffs for extension of deadline to serve all written discovery, or alternatively allow Mr. Gill to sign as president of MSI (Docket # 94)

The motion by MSI is denied. MSI cannot proceed without counsel and, as this court has previously made clear, Mr. Gill cannot appear for the corporation as its president.

Mr. Gill’s motion is denied because it is unclear what deadline he wishes to extend.

3. Morrison Mahoney’s motions for sanctions against MSI for failure to provide signed discovery responses in accordance with the court’s order dated February 24, 2014 (Docket ## 77 and 78)

The discovery at issue in this motion seeks the facts and details of MSI’s claims against defendants; they are quintessential contention interrogatories and document requests. Defendants are entitled to the information they seek, and that is why the court denied MSI’s motion for a protective order on February 24, 2014, and ordered MSI to respond by March 10, 2014. MSI did not comply with that order. Mr. Gill, as president of MSI, seeks to excuse MSI’s failure by its lack of representation, but it is he who has created the problem by the repeated change of counsel. Furthermore, as was previously explained, Mr. Gill, who is not a lawyer, is not permitted to represent a party other than himself. The motion for sanctions is allowed. The claims by MSI are dismissed for failure to comply with the court’s order and because it cannot proceed without counsel, nor will it be allowed to stall this proceeding yet again to find its seventh advocate.

4. Mr. Gill’s motion for filing via CM/ECF (Docket # 68)

This motion is allowed, but Mr. Gill must comply with all the court’s prerequisites for digital filing before ...

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