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Momenian v. Davidson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

September 19, 2016

Houshang Momenian, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Michael M. Davidson, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Amit P. Mehta United States District Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On May 6, 2015, Plaintiffs Houshang Momenian and Vida Momenian filed suit against their former lawyer, Defendant Michael Davidson, for legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty. After the court dismissed the original Complaint on statute-of-limitations grounds, Plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint on February 10, 2016, which attempted to cure the statute-of-limitations deficiencies of the original Complaint by adding several new allegations. Defendant has moved once again to dismiss all claims. He asserts, among other arguments, that Plaintiffs' claims are untimely, even as amended.

         After reviewing the Amended Complaint and evaluating the parties' arguments, the court concludes that Plaintiffs' new allegations have not saved their claims from the statute-of-limitations bar. The court therefore grants Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and dismisses this action with prejudice.

         II. BACKGROUND

         A. Factual Background

         The court previously set forth the factual background of this case in its January 21, 2016, Memorandum Opinion and Order, which addressed Defendant's first Motion to Dismiss. See generally Momenian v. Davidson, Civ. No. 1:15-cv-00828 (APM), 2016 WL 259641, at *1-2 (D.D.C. Jan. 21, 2016) [hereinafter Momenian I]; see also generally Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 7. The court presumes familiarity with the facts as stated in that opinion and thus provides only a short summary of the relevant allegations, as well as the new allegations presented by Plaintiffs in support of their claims.

         1. Summary

         Plaintiffs are a husband and wife who, in 1990, purchased three adjacent properties in Southeast Washington, D.C., from Paul and Amelia Interdonato. Am. Compl., ECF No. 13, ¶¶ 1-2, 8. In exchange for the properties, Plaintiffs executed a $265, 000 promissory note payable to Paul Interdonato, which was secured by a Deed of Trust Note. Id. ¶ 9. In 2009, Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the Interdonatos in D.C. Superior Court, alleging that the Interdonatos had failed to credit various payments to Plaintiffs' promissory note. Id. ¶ 23. Defendant served as Plaintiffs' lawyer in that case. Id.

         On October 12, 2010, based on Defendant's advice, Plaintiffs settled their lawsuit against the Interdonatos (the “Settlement”). Id. ¶ 28. Under the terms of the Settlement, Plaintiffs agreed to a $15, 000 credit against their promissory note in exchange for the dismissal, with prejudice, of their lawsuit against the Interdonatos. Id. A year and a half later, on May 7, 2012, Plaintiffs and the Interdonatos again became embroiled in litigation when the Interdonatos issued a Notice of Foreclosure against Plaintiffs regarding the same properties at issue in the earlier action. Id. ¶ 34. Once again, Plaintiffs settled the matter. Id. ¶ 36.

         Two and a half years after the second settlement, on May 6, 2015, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendant in D.C. Superior Court, which was then removed to this court. See generally Compl., ECF 1, Ex. A, ECF No. 1-1 [hereinafter Compl.]. Plaintiffs alleged that, because Defendant was negligent in explaining the scope and preclusive effect of the Settlement, they did not understand that a “dismissal with prejudice meant that there would be no future litigation over Plaintiffs' claim that other amounts should have been credited by the Interdonatos.” Id. ¶ 27. They also averred that they repeatedly asked Defendant to hire an accountant, or seek court appointment of one, to analyze and compute the amounts the Interdonatos should have credited to Plaintiffs, but that Defendant failed to engage such a person. Id. ¶ 25. This court ultimately dismissed Plaintiffs' Complaint, without prejudice, on statute of limitations grounds. See generally Momenian I, 2016 WL 259641. The court did not dismiss the action in its entirety, however, and instead afforded Plaintiffs an opportunity to amend their Complaint. See Id. at *7.

         2. The Amended Complaint

         On February 10, 2016, Plaintiffs timely filed their Amended Complaint. See Am. Compl. Although Plaintiffs' general claims of malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty by Defendant remained the same, they added several allegations to the Amended Complaint aimed at curing the statute-of-limitations problems within the original Complaint.[1] First, they averred that “Defendant continued to represent Plaintiffs with regard to the Interdonato matter subsequent to October 12, 2010, as evidenced by an invoice from Defendant to Houshang for the period December 1, 2010[, ] to May 15, 2011.” Id. ¶ 32. The invoice, excerpted in the Amended Complaint, seems to show that Defendant worked for Plaintiffs on the Interdonato matter through April 2011. Id. Plaintiffs also alleged that “[d]uring 2011 and early 2012, ” Houshang called Defendant “approximately every three months” regarding the Interdonato matter, asking Defendant “when he would have an opportunity to go before a judge.” Id. ¶ 33. Defendant's response, according to Plaintiffs, was that “he was working on it.” Id. Finally, Plaintiffs added an allegation asserting that Houshang had a conversation with Defendant on January 31, 2013-which Houshang recorded-during which Defendant told Houshang that “‘[y]ou did not forfeit any of your rights on [the Interdonato matter].'” Id. ¶ 38.

         B. Procedural History

         On February 18, 2016, Defendant renewed his motion to dismiss, asserting that Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint still failed to state a claim. See generally Mem. in Support of Mot. to Dismiss Am. Compl., ECF No. 14-1 [hereinafter Def.'s Mot.]. Defendant asserted the same arguments that he had made in his original Motion to Dismiss. He argued that Plaintiffs: (1) failed to allege negligence or wrongdoing; (2) failed to allege injury to themselves personally because they transferred their property interest to the Houshang Trust; and (3) failed to assert claims within the statute-of-limitations period. See generally id.[2]

         III. ...


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