Judge to sanction defendants in malpractice lawsuit

DISTRICT Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has granted the motion for sanctions filed by attorney Rachel A. Dimitru who represents Junior Larry Hillbroom in a lawsuit he filed against Barry Israel and David Lujan.

Dimitruk also opposed the defendants’ motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and asked the court to order them to pay $11,950 for attorney’s fees and the cancellation of depositions.

Hillbroom is one of the four DNA-proven heirs of DHL Corp. founder Larry Lee Hillblom who died in a plane crash in 1995 near Saipan leaving behind him an estate estimated at about $600 million.

Attorneys Barry Israel and David Lujan represented Hillbroom when he was a minor in securing $90 million from the Hillblom estate. When he became an adult, Hillbroom sued his former lawyers for malpractice as well as Keith Waibel, trustee of Hillbroom’s trust, for conspiracy.

At the hearing on Thursday, Judge Manglona said Lujan violated the court rules of professional conduct that prohibited him from any contact with Hillbroom without his lawyer’s consent.

The judge said the court will strike the transcripts of the phone calls between the plaintiff and Lujan from the record.

In addition, the court ordered the defendants to pay $11,750 for the cost of replying to their motion to dismiss.

But the judge denied Dimitruk’s request for $200 for the cancellation of Israel’s deposition set for March 27-28, 2019 o Guam

Judge Manglona also denied her motion to disqualify Israel’s lawyer, Theodore Frank.

Frank opposed the motion for sanctions and asked that Dimitruk submit a supplemental brief.

After hearing the arguments from both parties, the judge ordered Dimitruk to file a supplemental accounting for hours and costs on May 2, 2019.

The judge said she will issue a written order consistent with her rulings at the hearing.

On March 18, Judge Manglona denied Israel’s emergency motion to dismiss with prejudice the malpractice lawsuit against him by the DHL-heir.

Israel’s lawyer, Theodore Frank, said Hillbroom had instructed his counsel, Dimitruk, to dismiss the action but she did not comply with his instruction.

Following the denial of his motion to dismiss, Israel re-filed a motion to dismiss with Lujan joining the motion.

In her declaration supporting her opposition to the defendants’ motion for dismissal, Dimitruk said Hillbroom made it clear to herself and his other lawyer, Nelson Werner, that Hillbroom “intends to proceed with litigation.”

All parties appeared at the Thursday hearing telephonically except for attorney Mark Hanson who also represents Hillbroom.

During the hearing, Dimitruk told the court that that the plaintiff has no intention of withdrawing the lawsuit and that she has received instruction to continue and proceed with the litigation.