John W. Boyd, Jr., Appellant,
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, et al., Appellees.
January 24, 2017
from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia
(CAB-2782-14) (Hon. Herbert B. Dixon, Jr., Trial Judge)
Lively, for appellant.
Charles Davant IV, with John K. Villa, and Roy S. Awabdeh,
Williams & Connolly LLP, for appellee Kilpatrick Townsend
& Stockton, LLP.
L. Balaran for appellee Dennis M. Gingold.
Thompson and McLeese, Associate Judges, and Belson, Senior
BELSON, SENIOR JUDGE.
John W. Boyd, Jr., seeks reversal of trial court orders
granting motions to dismiss brought under Superior Court Rule
12 (b)(6) by appellees Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton,
LLP (Kilpatrick Townsend) and Dennis M. Gingold (Gingold).
Appellant argues that the trial court erred by (1) dismissing
his claims for unjust enrichment against both appellees as
time-barred; (2) dismissing his claim for quantum
meruit (breach of an implied-in-fact
contract) against Gingold as time-barred; and (3)
determining that appellant had failed to state facts
sufficient to establish a claim for breach of an
implied-in-fact contract against Kilpatrick Townsend.
concluding that appellant's unjust enrichment claims
against both appellees and his breach of an implied-in-fact
contract claim against Gingold were time-barred, the trial
court applied the "last rendition of services"
test, which posits that a claim accrues upon a plaintiffs
last rendition of services to a defendant. On appeal,
appellant argues that the trial court should not have applied
this test, and asserts that the statute of limitations did
not begin to run on his claims until the benefit of his
services was conferred upon appellees, which, he argues, took
place when appellees were awarded attorneys' fees in the
underlying case. Under this theory, the aforementioned claims
would not be barred by the three-year statutes of limitations
for unjust enrichment and breach of an implied-in-fact
affirm the trial court's dismissal of appellant's
claim for breach of an implied-in-fact contract against
Gingold as time-barred; (2) affirm the trial court's
determination that appellant failed to state a claim for
breach of an implied-in-fact contract against Kilpatrick
Townsend; (3) vacate the trial court's dismissal of
appellant's claims for unjust enrichment against both
appellees as time-barred; and (4) remand for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.
summarize the facts as they are stated in appellant's
complaint. Appellees Kilpatrick Townsend, an international
law firm, and Gingold, a sole practitioner, represented the
Native American plaintiffs in Cobell v. Salazar,
class action lawsuit against the United States Department of
the Interior for mismanagement of trust funds. In December
2009, the Cobell plaintiffs and the plaintiffs in a
separate class action lawsuit against the United States
Department of Agriculture concerning past discrimination
against black farmers, Pigford v. Vilsack,
reached a joint settlement agreement with the Government.
Appellant, who was then President of the National Black
Farmers Association, became involved in Pigford by
lobbying for minority farmers who had missed an earlier
filing deadline to be compensated under a consent
decree. A second lawsuit was filed on behalf of
these late-filers, and through the efforts of appellant and
many others, was eventually combined with the other
Cobell and Pigford litigants into a joint
settlement agreement. The settlement agreement compensating
the Cobell and Pigford plaintiffs required
funding by a congressional appropriation.
March 5, 2010, John Loving, a government relations advisor at
Kilpatrick Townsend, contacted appellant and requested his
assistance in lobbying for the passage of the Claims
Resolution Act (CRA), the funding bill for the
Cobell and Pigford plaintiffs. Mr. Loving
"asked [appellant] to use his extensive contacts ... to
drum up the necessary support for the . . .
legislation." Appellant and Mr. Loving did not discuss
appellant's fees or any specific tasks to be performed.
Appellant also spoke with Geoffrey Rempel, an accountant the
Cobell plaintiffs hired, in order to coordinate
thereafter, on June 1, 2010, appellant met Messrs. Rempel and
Gingold for lunch at the Laughing Man Tavern, a pub in the
District of Columbia. Appellant's complaint states that:
[During that lunch at the Laughing Man Tavern, appellant]
specifically told both Defendant Gingold and Mr. Rempel that
he expected to be paid for this efforts to secure funding for
the Cobell settlement. In response, Defendant
Gingold encouraged [appellant] to continue working with and
for Defendants. Defendant Gingold never indicated to
[appellant] at any time at the restaurant, or at any
subsequent time thereafter, that [appellant] would not be
compensated for his efforts. . . . Every time [appellant]
raised issues of compensation or the amount of such
compensation, Defendant Gingold always indicated to him that
compensation should not concern him - clearly indicating to
[appellant] that payment would be forthcoming. Indeed,
according to Defendant Gingold, the issue of payment was not
whether [appellant] would be compensated, but when Eloise
Cobell would focus on the amount of compensation for him.
the lunch meeting, appellant continued to lobby for passage
of the CRA, which President Obama signed into law on December
8, 2010. The complaint alleged no further communications
between appellant and appellees after the bill was
appellant learned that the Pigford litigation team
did not plan to pay him for the services he allegedly
rendered for them concerning the CRA's passage, he filed
a lawsuit against them on November 21, 2012, in the United
States District Court for the District of
Columbia. On August 2, 2013, the District Court
dismissed appellant's lawsuit, having concluded that his
allegations of breach of an implied-in-fact contract and
quantum meruit failed to state a cause of action, as
they consisted largely of "naked allegations of verbal
promises" and conclusory statements "devoid of
6, 2014, well after the District Court had dismissed his
complaint against the Pigford counsel, appellant
filed his complaint against appellees in the Superior Court
of the District of Columbia. Subsequently, appellees filed
motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which
relief could be granted under Super. Ct. Civ. R. 12 (b)(6).
The trial court granted those motions in separate orders on
June 11, 2015.
Gingold's motion to dismiss, the trial court determined
that, assuming appellant's allegations were true, he had
sufficiently pled claims for unjust enrichment and breach of
an implied-in-fact contract. However, the trial court
determined that appellant's claims against Gingold were
time-barred under the "last rendition of services"
test because appellant's work for Gingold had ended, at
the latest, on December 8, 2010, when President Obama signed
the CRA into law. The trial court noted that appellant had
not "delivered a bill to the defendants during the time
period he lobbied for the passage of the CRA" or
"within a reasonable time after his services
ended." Indeed, the court observed, appellant did not
demand payment from appellees until April 28, 2014, when his
attorney sent a letter demanding payment accompanied by a
draft copy of the complaint that was filed in the Superior