Friday, June 11, 2021
Unpaid Fee Lost
The Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed the denial of relief to an attorney seeking post-mortem payment of the bills to a client
The trial testimony reveals that in 1991, plaintiff, a practicing attorney, met David F. LaRoche (David F.), who had been referred to plaintiff by another attorney for representation connected to an involuntary bankruptcy case. The plaintiff represented David F. for the entirety of that bankruptcy action and, later, another bankruptcy action. The plaintiff received some compensation for this representation; however, he did not receive all that he had billed. As a result, David F. owed plaintiff approximately $160,000 for his representation. No payments were ever made as to that amount.
In the summer of 2001, plaintiff and David F. entered into an agreement, memorialized in a promissory note, wherein the sum due to plaintiff was reduced to $140,000, and terms were established for that sum to be paid. The promissory note was due on October 10, 2006. According to plaintiff, he never received any payments from David F. on this note.
At some point, David F. informed plaintiff that he was gravely ill. Upon receiving this information, plaintiff determined that he would not take action against David F. while he was dealing with his illness. David F. died on February 26, 2009.
After his informal efforts to collect failed, the attorney filed suit in June 2010. The matter was tried in September 2014.
The trial court issued its decision in July 2019, rejecting unjust enrichment claims against a slew of individual and business defendants associated with the deceased.
The record contains no explanation for the seemingly unreasonable nearly five-year delay between the filing of posttrial memoranda and the issuance of the trial justice’s decision. We remind all judicial officers of their obligation to dispose of court business promptly and diligently.
Here, he appealed the failure to order a constructive trust
As no claims survived under the trial justice’s decision—and, on appeal, the plaintiff did not contest the trial justice’s decisions as to those claims—there is no surviving claim for which a constructive-trust remedy might be imposed.