David H. Rich obtained a defense verdict defeating an abuse of process claim against his lawyer client following a three-day bench trial in federal court in Massachusetts.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns ruled that the attorney did not abuse the bankruptcy process by filing a Chapter 13 petition on behalf of a client to prevent a foreclosure sale on Massachusetts property the client owned.
The judge also rejected the lenders’ statutory claim (Chapter 93A) against the attorney alleging unfair and deceptive business practices.
The attorney, hired by the debtor only days before the scheduled foreclosure sale in May 2018, believed the loans underlying the mortgage to be foreclosed upon were usurious and intended to challenge them in the bankruptcy proceeding.
Even though the attorney admittedly made errors in the rush filing of the bankruptcy petition, the judge found that the lawyer did not intend to file a groundless bankruptcy case for the purpose of delaying the foreclosure sale and did not abuse the bankruptcy process in commencing a Chapter 13 petition.
A partner at the firm, Mr. Rich concentrates his civil litigation practice on a variety of areas, include cases involving business and commercial disputes.