Rome McGuigan P.C. v. Giordano
A client's allegation that his former attorney threatened and abandoned him may not provide a legal defense in the law firm's collection action for payment of unpaid invoices. In March 2004, the defendant, Carl Giordano, allegedly hired the plaintiff law firm, Rome McGuigan P.C., to represent Giordano in his dissolution of marriage. Judgment in the dissolution entered in October 2005, and there were several postjudgment motions and hearings. Rome McGuigan sued Giordano, alleging that the law firm's attorneys and legal assistants worked 486 hours on his family matters and that Giordano owed $55,084 on his $111,045 invoice. Giordano did not dispute the number of hours worked or the lawyers' rates. The court subtracted $875 that the law firm billed for work performed after December 2009, for "Legal research for Appeal," because the law firm informed Giordano he would be required to sign a new retainer agreement, prior to the performance of appellate work. There was no evidence that a new retainer agreement was signed. Previously, the court barred Giordano's claim that he received incorrect advice concerning a "like kind" exchange, because Giordano failed to obtain an expert witness to testify about the legal standard of care. The court refused to consider Giordano's claim that a Rome McGuigan attorney, Jacqueline Wilson, abandoned and threatened Giordano. On Dec. 17, 2009, Giordano recorded a conversation in which Wilson allegedly used foul language and threatened to kill Giordano, because she was frustrated that Giordano would not accept her decision to withdraw from his representation. "Attorney Wilson," wrote the court, "did not need the defendant's assent to cease representation." Unless a motion to open judgment or an appeal is filed within 180 days of judgment, an attorney's appearance in a dissolution case is terminated, pursuant to Practice Book §3-9(c). Although Wilson's alleged utterances were "offensive, undignified, and unnecessary," added the court, "bad manners and intemperate speech have no bearing on the obligation to pay for the legal services which were rendered." Giordano failed to prove his special defense and counterclaim of abandonment. The court granted judgment to Rome McGuigan in the amount of $54,209, plus costs.