2017 Mass.App.Div. 154, Pareles v. Lee

Citation:2017 Mass.App.Div. 154
Opinion Judge:NESTOR, J.
Attorney:Richard Pareles for the plaintiff. Jean Lee, pro se.
Judge Panel:Present: Coven, P.J., Crane & Nestor, JJ.
Case Date:October 30, 2017
Court:Massachusetts Appellate Division

2017 Mass.App.Div. 154




Massachusetts Appellate Division, District Court Department, Northern District

October 30, 2017

August 18, 2017

Richard Pareles for the plaintiff.

Jean Lee, pro se.

Present: Coven, P.J., Crane & Nestor, JJ.


This case is a suit brought by an attorney against his former client for unpaid attorney's fees. The underlying case has a long and tortured history that is not wholly relevant to the issue presented on appeal. Suffice to say, the original case was filed on June 1, 2011 in Middlesex Superior Court; the Superior Court dismissed the case without prejudice on January 27, 2012 for plaintiff's failure to meet the procedural threshold under G.L. c. 212, § 3 1; the plaintiff refiled the action in Waltham District Court on February 28, 2012 pursuant to c. 212, § 3A 2; and the case was ultimately transferred and concluded with a jury trial on May 20, 2015 in Framingham District Court.

The jury awarded the plaintiff, Attorney Richard Pareles ("Pareles"), $5,806.00 in damages for unpaid attorney's fees. Counsel for the defendant, Jean Lee ("Lee"), brought an oral motion for sanctions pursuant to G.L. c. 231, § 6F.

The trial judge allowed the motion and reduced the verdict by $1,700.00. The trial judge noted in his written findings, "Both sides came to Court with unclean hands. This Court does find that [Lee] probably misled her lawyer and the Probate Judge in the earlier trial and that [Lee's] Counsel threatened [Pareles] with a huge counterclaim threat of six times or greater. This Court also finds that [Pareles] didn't need to travel to three different courts, causing far greater att[orne]y's fees for [Lee] than was necessary. This is a classic case of both sides taking a $5,800.00 case and turning it into a case like Exxon Mobil v. Chevron." The judge also reduced the plaintiff's entitlement to prejudgment interest to eight months, finding, "[T]his Court is not permitting interest on the judgment from 2012. The bulk of the delay was attributable to court transfers, court congestion, and both sides over litigating the case."

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