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Law Office G.A. Lambert and Associates v. Davidoff

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

October 30, 2014

LAW OFFICE G.A. LAMBERT AND ASSOCIATES, Plaintiff
v.
TOFIK DAVIDOFF, et al., Defendants

For LAW OFFICE G.A. LAMBERT AND ASSOCIATES, Plaintiff: George Alex Lambert, LAW OFFICE OF THE LEONARD SUCHANEK, Washington, DC.

Page 111

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, United States District Judge.

Plaintiff, the Law Office G.A. Lambert and Associates (" Plaintiff" ), has filed an action against its former clients, Defendants Tofik Davidoff, Kalimantano GmbH, and First Royal Services GmbH (" Defendants" ), alleging that Defendants defrauded Plaintiff and failed to pay legal fees and costs owed to Plaintiff. Presently before this Court is Plaintiff's [30] Renewed Motion for Default Judgment. Upon consideration of the parties' submissions,[1] the

Page 112

relevant legal authorities, and the record as a whole, and for the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's [30] Renewed Motion for Default Judgment as MODIFIED here and enters JUDGMENT against Defendants Davidoff and Kalimantano, jointly and severally, for $84,925 with respect to Plaintiff's claims for unpaid legal fees and for $16,575.03 with respect to Plaintiff's claims for unpaid costs, as well as for costs in this action of $1,275. No prejudgment interest is awarded. Accordingly, a total judgment of $102,775.03 is entered against Defendants Davidoff and Kalimantano, jointly and severally.

Plaintiff does not pursue his claims against the third defendant, First Royal Services GmbH, in this motion, and the Court dismisses the claims against First Royal without prejudice based on the reasons described below. The Court also dismisses without prejudice Counts 3, 4, and 5 of the Complaint, all pertaining to allegations of fraud committed by the Defendants. Given that Plaintiff has chosen not to seek a default judgment with respect to damages arising out of these counts, as well as for the reasons described below, the Court dismisses those claims without prejudice against all Defendants. Accordingly, the Court DISMISSES this action in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

Plaintiff's Complaint sets out the following allegations, which the Court takes as true for purposes of Plaintiff's motion for default judgment. See Int'l Painters & Allied Trades Indus. Pension Fund v. R.W. Amrine Drywall Co., 239 F.Supp.2d 26, 30 (D.D.C. 2002). Plaintiff is a District of Columbia law office headed by attorney George A. Lambert. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Tofik Davidoff is a German national, who is closely allied with two German companies: Defendants Kalimantano GmbH and First Royal Services GmbH. Id. ¶ ¶ 2-4. On September 3, 2012, Davidoff executed a retainer contract with Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 8. Under the terms of the retainer contract, Plaintiff represented Davidoff and, as needed, the entities in which Davidoff was the principal. Id. ¶ ¶ 2, 9. Plaintiff also represented Kalimantano's employee, Konstantin Felde, and First Royal's manager, Johannes Schwegler. Id. ¶ 10. Defendant First Royal is connected to this suit because it " was proposed to be a third-party payer and guarantor on the invoices to Davidoff and Kalimantano." Id. ¶ 4. Plaintiff represented Defendants Davidoff and Kalimantano in several suits brought in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. See id. ¶ 7, 11-17. The parties conducted business together for approximately nine months before payment issues began to arise. Id. ¶ 18. After receiving a May 6, 2013, invoice from Plaintiff, Davidoff made numerous excuses for why payment was not forthcoming. Id. ¶ 18-32.

Several months after the May 6, 2013, invoice, Plaintiff had still not received payment from Defendants. On October 21, 2013, Davidoff sent the law office a copy of a transaction showing that 15,000 Euros were deducted from one of First Royal's accounts on that date. Id. However, this money never reached Plaintiff. Id. ¶ ¶ 35-38. On October 30, 2013, Davidoff unexpectedly told Plaintiff that a settlement agreement had been reached in the only remaining lawsuit for which Plaintiff represented Defendants Davidoff and Kalimantano

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-- a pending matter in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Id. ¶ 40. Davidoff denied that he owed anything to Plaintiff and also denied that any purported attempts to pay or wire funds took place. Id. ¶ ¶ 44-45. Nevertheless, on November 1, 2013, Lambert made a motion to withdraw from the pending matter in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Id. ¶ 47. Upon being served with the motion, Davidoff claimed he did not know where to wire the payments to Plaintiff. Id. ¶ 48.

B. Procedural History

Plaintiff filed its Complaint in this Court on November 4, 2013, alleging five counts: (1) " Breach of Contract," (2) " Quantum Meruit, Promissory Estoppel," (3) " Misrepresentation and Fraud," (4) " Fraud; False Wire Transfer Banking Document," and (5) " Fraud; False Wire Transfer Banking Document; Forgery." Compl. ¶ ¶ 52-92. Defendants were purportedly served with the Complaint and Summons on December 17, 2013, and were therefore required to respond by January 7, 2014. See Pl.'s Proof of Service Affidavits, ECF Nos. [10]-[12]. Defendants failed to file an answer or otherwise respond to the Complaint in this Court by this deadline, and therefore on February 7, 2014, Plaintiff moved for entry of default against all three Defendants. See Pl.'s Aff. in Support of Default, ECF No. [16]. The Clerk of the Court subsequently entered default against all three Defendants on February 10, 2014. See Clerk's Entry of Default, ECF No. [18]. The following day, Plaintiff filed a [19] Request for Default Judgment, or, in the Alternative, Motion for Default Judgment. That motion, mirroring the ...


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