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Hashem v. D'Angelo

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

December 6, 2018

SABA HASHEM, individually and as a member of, and derivatively on behalf of, D'Angelo and Hashem, LLC, Plaintiff/Defendant-in-Counterclaim,
v.
STEPHEN D'ANGELO, individually and as a member of D'Angelo & Hashem, LLC, and D'Angelo Law Group; D'ANGELO LAW GROUP, LLC, and D'ANGELO AND HASHEM, LLC, Defendants/Plaintiffs-in-Counterclaim JENNIFER M. CARRION, Intervention-Plaintiff,
v.
SABA HASHEM, STEPHEN D'ANGELO, D'ANGELO & HASHEM, LLC, D'ANGELO LAW GROUP, LLC, Intervention-Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          TALWANI, D.J.

         I. Introduction

         The underlying civil action before the court is between two former law partners, Saba Hashem and Stephen D'Angelo, regarding, inter alia, the assets of their firm, D'Angelo and Hashem, LLC ("D&H"). On July 28, 2017, Intervention-Plaintiff Jennifer Carrion, who holds judgments against Mr. Hashem and D&H, was allowed to intervene. Mem. & Order [#39]. Ms. Carrion has asserted claims against Mr. Hashem, Mr. D'Angelo, D&H, and D'Angelo Law Group, LLC ("D'Angelo Law") for fraudulent conveyances from D&H to D'Angelo and D'Angelo Law under theories of reach and apply and corporate successor liability. Intervener's Cross-Compl. ¶¶ 27-46 [#48].

         Before (he court is Ms. Carrion's Motion for Preliminary Injunctions Against Intervention-Defendants/Reach & Apply Defendants Steven D'Angelo and D'Angelo Law Group LLC ("Mot. for PI") [#155]. In her motion, Ms. Carrion asks that the court enjoin Mr. D'Angelo and D'Angelo Law from disbursing any portion of attorney's fees and costs relating to a settlement in Lopez-Maldonado et al. v. Toll Brothers Inc., Suffolk Superior Court No. 1484-CV-01440-G. Because Intervention-Plaintiff has shown a strong likelihood of success on the merits of her underlying claim, the motion is ALLOWED.

         II. Background

         In April 2015, Ms. Carrion obtained judgments against Mr. Hashem and D&H which she contends now amount to approximately $500, 000, Intervener's Cross-Compl. ¶¶ 10-18 [#48]; Intervenor's Cross-Compl. Ex. A [#48-1] (Execution as to Hashem); Ex. B (Execution as to D&H) [#48-2]; Ex. C [#48-3] (Execution as to Hashem and D&H, jointly and severally); Ex. D [#48-4] (Execution as to Hashem and D&H, jointly and severally); Ex. E [#48-5] (Execution as to Hashem and D&H, jointly and severally). Furthermore, the Suffolk Superior Court issued a post-judgment injunction ordering that Mr. Hashem and D&H not "[take any unlawful action to hinder, or delay, or defraud [Ms. Carrion] from collecting [Ms. Carrion's] judgment," and from "transferring, alienating or encumbering any assets of [Mr. Hashem and D&H] other than in the ordinary course of business." Carrion v. Hashem et al., No. 0784cv02073, Suffolk Sup. Ct. docket no. 54.

         In January 2014, Erodin Miasel Lopez-Maldonado retained D&H to represent him on a contingent fee basis for a workers' compensation and personal injury case for losses that Mr. Lopez-Maldonado sustained in December 2013. Mot for PI Ex. C (Contingency Fee Agreement) [#156-2]. D&H represented Mr, Lopez-Maldonado for both his workers' compensation filing and his personal injury case in Suffolk Superior Court. See Mot. for PI Ex. A (Lopez-Maldonado et al. v. Toll Brothers Inc., Suffolk Superior Court No. 1484-CV-01440-G, docket) [#156- 2]); Mot. for PI Ex. E (D'Angelo Dep.) 21:13-22:24. The Contingent Fee Agreement signed by Mr. Lopez-Maldonado included the following provision:

(7) If the [D&H] is discharged by the client prior to the conclusion of this representation, the [D&H] is entitled for its reasonable expenses and disbursements. Further, the [D&H] is to be compensated the fair value of the services rendered to the client up to the time of discharge, but the amount of the fee shall not be due to the [D&H] until the subject matter litigation is concluded. If the [D&H] is discharged prior to the conclusion of the case/claim, the Client acknowledges a lien to the [D&H] on any settlement of this claim, judgment obtained in the court action and or award reached through a mediation or arbitration as a result of this case/claim. The Client further authorizes any successor attorney ... to pay directly to the [D&H] the sums owed to it for the value of their services rendered on the case and any costs expended.

Contingency Fee Agreement at 16 [#156-2].

         In November 2015, after Mr, Hashem was arrested and ultimately incarcerated, Mr. D'Angelo formed D'Angelo Law, of which he is the sole manager and member. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 10 [#46]; D'Angelo Dep. 29:22-30:16. In July 2016, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered Mr. Hashem suspended from practicing law for eighteen months, retroactive to December 2015. Am. Compl. ¶ 5 [#13]; Second Am. Compl. ¶ 4 [#46]. For those D&H clients that chose to continue to be represented by Mr. D'Angelo, Mr. D'Angelo represented them through D'Angelo Law. Second Am. Compl. ¶ 19-20 [#46]; Def.'s Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss 2 [#8]: see also Mot, for PI Ex. J. (Client Letter). D'Angelo Law operated with the same employees that were working at D&H, remained in the same office as D&H, and hired the same legal contractor as D&H. Mot. for PI Ex. T (DLG Dep.) 10:20-19:13 [#156-6]. Mr. D'Angelo did not wind up or dissolve D&H to pay its liabilities, even though the partnership was no longer in business. Mot. for PI Ex. G (McCoy Dep.) 100:6-102:22 [#156-3]. Instead, Mr. D'Angelo maintains an open account consisting of very few assets for D&H. Id. at 103:18-105:2. Further, Mr. D'Angelo maintained D&H's line of credit with Santander Bank and car lease payments. D'Angelo Dep. 118:18-119:24.

         In January 2017, D'Angelo Law was paid approximately $120, 000 in attorney's fees earned in Mr. Lopez-Maldonado's workers' compensation case. D'Angelo Dep. 22:1-22:24. In October and November 2018, Mr. Lopez-Maldonado settled his Suffolk Superior Court personal injury case and the parties to that suit filed a stipulation of dismissal. Lopez-Maldonado et al. v. Toll Brothers Inc., Suffolk Superior Court No. 1484-CV-01440-G, docket nos. 71-72. At the hearing on this motion, counsel for Mr. D'Angelo and D'Angelo Law informed the court that D'Angelo Law received $192, 750 in attorneys' fees and costs from the settlement of that personal injury case. No. portion of those attorney's fees and costs have been paid to D&H or Mr. Hashem. D'Angelo Dep. 28:7-29:5.

         An accounting provided to the court of D'Angelo Law's accounts as of December 1, 2018, shows that all money from the most recent settlement was paid out of D'Angelo Law's accounts within two weeks of deposit, with $38, 800 paid directly to Mr. D'Angelo, $25, 000 paid to an unidentified money market account, and $44, 325 used to make credit card and car payments. Ms. Carrion has yet to receive any payment from D&H to satisfy the April 2015 judgment against it. Intervener's Cross-Compl. ¶ 19 [#48].

         III. Discussion

         A. ...


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