Emergency motion to dismiss Hillbroom’s suit denied

The federal court has denied a Vietnam-based lawyer’s emergency motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by Junior Larry Hillbroom.

In an order last Thursday, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona said that Barry J. Israel’s emergency motion fails to comply with the court’s local rule, that it contains no statement certifying Israel’s efforts to resolve the dispute without court action.

The judge noted that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides for the voluntary dismissal of an action by the plaintiff, but that is not before the court.

“Therefore, the motion is denied without prejudice,” she said.

Denial without prejudice means Israel may re-file the motion.

Manglona reminded Israel’s counsel that he must contact the court’s clerk’s office by telephone and email when requesting immediate court action to avoid calendaring conflicts.

Israel, through lawyer Theodore W. Frank, filed the emergency motion for dismissal of Hillbroom’s lawsuit last Wednesday and noticed it for a hearing two days later.

In Israel’s motion, Frank claimed that Hillbroom wants to drop his lawsuit against Israel and David J. Lujan, another lawyer, but his counsel has not yet complied with his instruction.

Hillbroom is suing Israel and Lujan, his former lawyers, for alleged legal malpractice.

Frank said that because Israel’s deposition is set to begin in Guam today, March 20, and Hillbroom’s deposition of Lujan is set to begin on March 26, the court’s intervention and guidance is necessary to insure that the parties’ time and money are not expended needlessly on a case that is “dead in the water.”

Alternatively, if the court is unwilling to dismiss the case, Israel wants the court to hold an immediate hearing with Hillbroom, in person or by telephone, to determine whether he has indeed instructed his counsel to drop the lawsuit.

Citing recorded conversations between Hillbroom and Lujan, Frank disclosed that, as early as Feb. 2, 2019, Hillbroom had instructed his lawyer to dismiss this case but his lawyers have not yet complied.

If this is so, Frank said, it would be a great injustice for Israel to travel from Vietnam to Guam and expend money to attend his deposition, only to have the case dismissed.

Citing Lujan’s declaration, Frank said it was Hillbroom who called Lujan on the phone last Jan. 31, requesting to discuss the resolution of this case. At the time, Frank said, Lujan was unable to discuss the matter fully so it was agreed that they would talk again.

Frank said that Lujan called Hillbroom back last Feb. 2, where Hillbroom stated he wants to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawyer said Hillbroom stated, among other things, that he is tired of going to court.

In his lawsuit, Hillbroom alleged that Israel and Lujan conspired with a former trustee to inflate the attorneys’ contingency fee when the fortune of the late business tycoon and DHL co-founder Larry Lee Hillblom was still undergoing probate proceedings in Superior Court.

Hillbroom is one of the four DNA-proven children of Hillbroom. His name is spelled differently from that of Hillblom.

Hillblom died in a seaplane crash off Anatahan waters on May 21, 1995.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@Saipantribune.com
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