Thursday, September 15, 2011

Promises Promises

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has affirmed and reversed in part the dismissal of an action brought by the wife of a Manchester attorney against Nixon Peabody and an attorney there named Regina Rockefeller.

The Manchester attorney had handled an estate matter. The Nixon Peabody attorney accused him of misappropriation and threatened to report him to criminal and bar authorities if he did not repay the estate.

The wife claimed that these threats forced her to execute a reverse mortgage on her family home. The defendants reported him anyway. Suit was brought and the home was foreclosed.

The wife sued on a variety of claims stemming from her alleged resulting severe emotional and physical distress.

The court here found that the claim of fraudulent misrepresentation was sufficiently pled:

The writ alleges that in reliance upon the defendants’ promises not to report her husband’s misconduct, the plaintiff agreed to execute a reverse mortgage on, and release her homestead interest in, the family home in Manchester and the settlement agreement dated April 2, 2007. In her prayer for relief, the plaintiff states that her payments were made to the defendants involuntarily and as a result of fraud. We read the facts set forth in the writ as alleging that the defendants either intended or had reason to expect that the promises made to Attorney Tessier would be communicated to the plaintiff and would influence her decision to enter into the settlement agreement with Dr. Jakobiec.

The trial court also erred in denying the plaintiff's motion to amend claims of breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing.

 Because the court reversed the trial court's dismissal of some of the claims against the individual attorney, claims against the firm survive on the basis of respondeat superior. The failure to supervise claim against the firm was properly dismissed.

The Manchester attorney consented to disbarment.  (Mike Frisch)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_profession/2011/09/the-new-hampshire-supreme-court-has-affirmed-and-reversed-in-part-the-dismissal-of-an-action-brought-by-the-wife-of-a-manches.html

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