Appeals from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (CA-4580-99) (Hon. William M. Jackson, Trial Judge)
Before Steadman and Ruiz, Associate Judges, and King, Senior Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: King, Senior Judge
Pride Transport, Inc., appeals, contending that the trial court erred in denying its motion for entry of a show-cause order and quashing its writ of attachment; the appellee in that appeal, Ronald N. Cobert, an attorney in Washington, D.C., cross-appeals, contending that the trial court erred in denying his request for costs and attorney's fees pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-553 (2001). *fn1 Cobert also moves this court to award attorney's fees incurred in this appeal. We affirm all of the trial court's rulings and deny Cobert's motion for attorney's fees in this court.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This appeal arises out of Pride Transport's attempts to collect on a judgment debt. Pride Transport was the judgment creditor, and Cobert was counsel to the judgment debtor in a case unrelated to the judgment debt case. The judgment debtor did not participate in this appeal.
In 1997, Pride Transport filed a civil action against the Northeastern Pennsylvania Shippers Cooperative Association, Inc. ("NEPSCA"), in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey. *fn2 The parties settled, but NEPSCA defaulted under the settlement agreement, and a default judgment was entered in favor of Pride Transport on March 7, 1997, for $20,491.88.
On July 24, 1991, NEPSCA filed an action against the United States in the United States Court of Federal Claims in an unrelated matter. Northeastern Pa. Shippers Coop. Ass'n v. United States, 32 Fed. Cl. 72 (1994). Cobert represented NEPSCA in that action. He undertook that representation after arriving at an agreement with Fidelity Bank ("Fidelity"), who was a superior creditor with a U.C.C. lien against NEPSCA's receivables that had been filed in Pennsylvania. The agreement provided that Fidelity would acknowledge and honor Cobert's attorney's lien for his contingent fee for representing NEPSCA in the action in the Court of Federal Claims. In that case, the trial court ruled against the United States and awarded NEPSCA $55,745.00 in damages. Northeastern Pa. Shippers Coop. Ass'n v. United States, 43 Fed. Cl. 763 (1999). That decision was filed on June 10, 1999. Id. NEPSCA then filed a timely appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
In the meantime, Pride Transport domesticated its New Jersey judgment in the District on July 1, 1999. On August 4, 1999, Pride Transport served upon Cobert a writ of attachment and interrogatories, pursuant to D.C. Code § 16-553 (2001). The relevant interrogatory read as follows:
Had you at the time of the service of the annexed writ of attachment, or have you between the time of such service and the filing of your answer to this interrogatory, any goods, chattels, or credits of the defendant(s) in your possession or charge, and, if so, what?
(Emphasis added). Cobert responded in a timely fashion (August 9, 1999) with the following:
No. However, the law firm of Grove, Jaskiewicz and Cobert does have a lawyers' lien against the judgment [in NEPSCA's action against the United States]. In addition, one or more banks and other creditors ...