Hillbroom says Lujan displayed obstructive conduct during deposition

Junior Larry Hillbroom has requested the federal court to compel his former lawyer, David J. Lujan, to resume his deposition on Saipan as Lujan allegedly displayed obstructive conduct and improperly left during the first deposition.

Deposition refers to the taking of testimony of a witness outside of court.

Hillbroom, through counsel Mark B. Hanson, asked the U.S. District Court for the NMI to order Lujan to stop obstructing the taking of his deposition and refrain from improper unethical behavior in the deposition.

Hillbroom requested the court to order Lujan to pay him for the expense his bad faith, abusive, and obstructive conduct has caused, including travel costs, lodging, attorneys’ fees, and other costs wasted because of Lujan’s improper departure from his deposition.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona last Tuesday ordered Lujan to file his opposition, if any, to Hillbroom’s motion by Monday, May 20.
Hanson said pursuant to the parties’ agreement, Lujan’s deposition commenced in Guam last Monday at 9am.

Hanson said Lujan appeared together with his “paralegal” who had defendant atty. Barry J. Israel on the phone.

Hanson said he and Nelson Werner, co-counsel for Hillbroom, were present.

Hillbroom listened in by phone for the entire morning session of the deposition. Werner was conducting the deposition.

Hanson said toward the end of the first day, Werner presented Lujan with the first document exhibit—the J.L.H. Trust Agreement.

Hanson said despite Werner not asking Lujan any substantive questions about the exhibit itself, Lujan insisted on silently reading each page of the document before he would answer any further questions.

Hanson said it was clear that Lujan intended to delay the deposition by insisting on reading the entirety of the large exhibit at the deposition table before continuing with his deposition even there was no question pending that required such an exercise.

Hanson said while Lujan prior to that point in the deposition used profanity toward Hillbroom’s counsel and called him (Hanson) bad word a few times, it was at this point that Lujan’s intent to interfere, delay, and frustrate Hillbroom’s efforts to take his deposition took shape.

Hanson said in order to resolve the apparent dispute, counsel asked Lujan to meet and confer regarding his position on reading the entirety of an exhibit before agreeing to be questioned further.

He said Lujan refused to confer, objecting to his (Hanson) “asking him questions at the deposition.”

Hanson said when the deposition recommenced last Tuesday morning, Lujan was 15 minutes late and continued with his obstructive conduct, insisting that Hanson “should just shut up.”

Hanson said Lujan quickly ended his participation in the deposition, stating that he intended to file a motion with the U.S. District Court in Guam sometime later this week.

Hanson said the grounds for which are unknown because Lujan again refused to confer, stating that he would do so later in the week by telephone.

He said after Lujan left, Werner made his record and the deposition was suspended.

Manglona recently found that Lujan violated Model Rules of Professional Conduct when he engaged in telephone conversations with Hillbroom and taped such conversations.
Manglona prohibited Lujan from making any contact with Hillbroom absent a written consent from Hillbroom’s counsel.

Manglona granted Hillbroom’s request that defendants Lujan and Israel pay their attorney’s fees in the amount of $11,750 for the costs of replying to defendants’ motion to dismiss Hillbroom’s lawsuit.

In his lawsuit, Hillbroom alleged that Israel and Lujan conspired with former trustee Keith Waibel to inflate the attorneys’ contingency fee when the fortune of the late business tycoon and DHL co-founder Larry Hillblom was still undergoing probate proceedings in the 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. His body was never recovered.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com
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