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Winston & Strawn LLP v. McLean

United States District Court, District of Columbia

October 24, 2018

WINSTON & STRAWN LLP, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES P. MCLEAN, JR, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          EMMET G. SULLIVAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. Introduction

         Plaintiff Winston & Strawn LLP (“W&S”) sues defendants Crumens Ltd. (“Crumens”) and James P. McLean, Jr. (“Mr. McLean”), proceeding pro se, for breach of contract. W&S, a law firm with an office in the District of Columbia, argues that it provided legal services pursuant to a contract and Mr. McLean refuses to pay. Pending before the Court is W&S's motion for summary judgment. After careful consideration of the motion, the response, the reply thereto, the entire record, and the applicable law, W&S's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.

         II. Background

         A. Factual Background

         In April 2012, Mr. McLean-on behalf of Crumens-agreed in writing to pay W&S to provide legal services to Edward S. Warneck.[1] See Engagement Agreement (“E.A.”), ECF No. 51-2 at 2-6.[2] Mr. McLean lived with “the mother of [Mr. Warneck's] daughter-in law” and in March 2012 “contacted [Mr. Warneck] by phone and offered to pay [his] legal fees involving [] various investigations.” Warneck Aff., ECF No. 51-8 ¶ 3. Mr. Warneck accepted Mr. McLean's offer and met with Thomas Buchanan, a W&S attorney who Mr. McLean had recommended. Id. ¶ 5.

         On April 11, 2012, W&S prepared an Engagement Agreement, which clarified that W&S represented Mr. Warneck “individually in connection with potential litigation involving the Department of Justice, the Department of Transportation, Creditors of Direct Air, and other matters relating to your employment at Direct Air (‘the Litigation').” E.A., ECF No. 51-2 at 2. As set forth in the Engagement Agreement, Crumens “agreed to pay [Mr. Warneck's] costs and legal expenses in connection with the litigation.” Id. The Engagement Agreement also explained the nature of W&S's services, the fees for those services, and that payment was due “within thirty days of . . . receipt of [W&S's] statement.” Id. at 3. Mr. Warneck signed the Engagement Agreement on April 13, 2012. Id. at 5. Mr. McLean signed the Engagement Agreement, on behalf of Crumens “c/o Johnson & McLean, LLC” on April 16, 2012. Id. at 6.

         Pursuant to the Engagement Agreement, W&S began representing Mr. Warneck in April 2012. See, e.g., Def.'s Exs., ECF No. 55-1 at 11-86; ECF No. 55-2 at 26-41 (billing statements detailing work performed on Mr. Warneck's behalf). Beginning in June 2012, W&S sent Mr. Warneck and Mr. McLean monthly invoices. See, e.g., Statement of Account, ECF No. 51-6 at 2; Def.'s Ex., ECF No. 55-1 at 11-86 (billing statements); id. at 87-88 (emails related to invoices). W&S represented Mr. Warneck through March 2013. At that time, W&S stopped providing legal services because it had not been paid. Statement of Account, ECF No. 51-6 at 2.

         From April 2012 through March 2013, W&S provided $495, 053.60 worth of legal services to Mr. Warneck. Id. For almost a year, Mr. McLean promised he would pay W&S's invoices. See Def.'s Ex., ECF No. 55-1 at 87-160 (emails from Mr. McLean to Mr. Buchanan promising payment and explaining lack of payment). Indeed, Mr. McLean never challenged or objected to an invoice. McLean Dep., ECF No. 51-3 at 45:10-13. To date, Mr. McLean has not paid W&S for the legal services it provided Mr. Warneck. Id. 47:6-9.

         B. Procedural Background

         On August 19, 2014, the Court granted W&S's motion for summary judgment as conceded pursuant to Local Rule 7(b), as Mr. McLean had not timely filed his memorandum in opposition. See Order, ECF No. 54. Mr. McLean appealed the Court's Order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”). In December 2016, the D.C. Circuit reversed the Court's Order and remanded for further proceedings, concluding that Local Rule 7(b) was inconsistent with Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. See Mandate, ECF No. 70; USCA Case Number 14-7197. In January 2017, the Court ordered supplemental briefing. W&S's motion for summary judgment is now ripe for review.

         III. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment should be granted only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Waterhouse v. District of Columbia, 298 F.3d 989, 991 (D.C. Cir. 2002). The moving party must identify “those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986) (internal quotations omitted). On the other hand, to defeat summary judgment, the nonmoving party must demonstrate that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Id. at 324. A material fact is one that is capable of affecting the outcome of the litigation. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). A genuine dispute is one in which “the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party.” Id. Further, “[t]he evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor.” Id. at 255.

         IV. ...


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