Walking out of his deposition in Guam has cost lawyer David J. Lujan over $20,000.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Magistrate Judge Heather L. Kennedy ordered Lujan on Monday to pay $20,921 in costs and fees to his former client, Junior Larry Hillbroom.
Had Lujan not walked out of his deposition, Hillbroom would have been able to complete the deposition and paid the corresponding costs to do so, Kennedy said.
Deposition refers to the taking of testimony of a witness outside of court. Lujan’s deposition was held in connection with Hillbroom’s lawsuit against him and Barry J. Israel.
Kennedy said Lujan’s wrongful termination of the Guam deposition made the second deposition on Saipan necessary.
She ordered Lujan to pay all costs related to the deposition on Saipan, but not those from the two lost days in Guam.
Hillbroom was awarded $16,182.50 in attorneys’ fees, $84 in transcript fee, and $4,654.54 for costs associated with the second deposition on Saipan, for a total of $20,921.04.
According to court records, Lujan walked out on May 14, 2019, on the second day of his scheduled three-day deposition in Guam. That same day, Hillbroom asked the court to sanction Lujan and compel him to resume his deposition. The court granted the motion to compel at a May 24 hearing and rescheduled the remaining two days of Lujan’s deposition at the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Saipan.
The court also granted Hillbroom’s motion for attorneys’ fees and costs for the filing of the motion to compel and ordered Hillbroom to submit a more detailed accounting of deposition costs for sanctions.
Hillbroom sought an award of $22,646 for attorneys’ fees and costs.
The calculation includes $16,182 in attorneys’ fees, $1,809 in costs associated with the cancellation of two days of the Guam deposition, and $4,654 in costs for the Saipan deposition.
Lujan did not oppose.
In her order Monday, Kennedy found that the attorneys’ fees represent reasonable costs for filing the motion to compel as does the cost of obtaining the May 14 transcript needed for that motion.
However, Kennedy said, at the motion hearing, she told Hillbroom’s counsel that she would not grant costs for the lost deposition days in Guam and the costs for the make-up days on Saipan because this would result in unjust enrichment for Hillbroom.
Hillbroom filed the motion to compel Lujan to resume his deposition on Saipan as Lujan allegedly displayed obstructive conduct and improperly left during the deposition in Guam. Hillbroom had also asked the court to sanction Lujan.
Hillbroom is suing Lujan and Israel for allegedly conspiring with former trustee Keith Waibel to inflate their contingency fee when the fortune of the late DHL co-founder Larry Hillblom was still undergoing probate proceedings in the Superior Court. Lujan and Israel have denied the allegations.
Hillbroom is one of the four DNA-proven children of Hillblom. His name is spelled differently from that of Hillblom.
Hillblom died in a seaplane crash off Anatahan waters on May 21, 1995. His body was never recovered.