A Legal Malpractice Attorney and Legal Malpractice RICO Lawsuits
Plaintiff-.Attorney in this RICO action sues other attorneys who have brought legal malpractice cases, some against him. Plaintiff was at one time a major player in the plaintiff's legal malpractice world. Now, in W. ROBERT CURTIS, Sc.D., J.D, CURTIS & ASSOCIATES, P.C., Plaintiffs-Appellants, - v - THE LAW OFFICES OF DAVID M. BUSHMAN, ESQ., DAVID M. BUSHMAN, Attorney at Law, JANET CALLAGHAN, EILEEN DEGREGORIO, STEVI BROOKS NICHOLS, JEFFREY LEVITT, ESQ., Attorney at Law, HERBERT MONTE LEVY, ESQ., LAW OFFICES OF HERBERT MONTE LEVY, ESQ., JOHN DOE, ESQ., LAW OFFICES OF JOHN DOE, ESQ., JANE DOE, ESQ., LAW OFFICES OF JANE DOE, ESQ the end of years of litigation appears.
"Plaintiffs-Appellants Curtis & Associates, P.C. and W. Robert Curtis (collectively "Curtis") appeal from a December 17, 2010 judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Matsumoto, J.) dismissing with prejudice their complaint alleging civil violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), [*2] 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961-1968, denying leave to amend, denying motions to disqualify counsel, and denying sanctions against Curtis. Curtis alleges, in essence, that various of his former clients and those clients' current counsel committed violations of RICO by bringing "counterfeit" malpractice claims and disputing fees earned by Curtis in his former representation of these clients."
"Curtis and defendants have been involved in numerous state court proceedings stretching back for many years. Curtis alleges that the underlying state court lawsuits between Curtis and defendants were part of the interconnected "schemes" of Defendants-Appellees the Law Offices of David M. Bushman, Esq., David M. Bushman, Attorney at Law, and David M. Bushman, Esq. (collectively "Bushman") "to Defraud Curtis" and "to Obtain Money," 1 J.A. 2377, and that Bushman recruited and controlled Defendants-Appellees Jeffrey Levitt, Esq. and Jeffrey Levitt, Attorney at Law (collectively "Levitt"); Herbert Monte Levy, Esq. and Law Offices of Herbert Monte Levy, Esq. (collectively "Levy"); and Stevi Brooks Nichols ("Nichols") to execute his schemes. Curtis further alleges that in the course of those suits, defendants made, submitted, or suborned the submission to the courts of [*6] various false and misleading statements or evidence. He alleges as predicate acts of mail and wire fraud the transmission of court filings and other case-related communications in the underlying state court lawsuits.
"The alleged "schemes" require the coordination of the defendants: three counsel (Bushman, Levy, and Levitt) and three former Curtis clients (Defendants-Appellees Nichols, Janet Turansky Callaghan ("Turansky"), and Eileen DeGregorio). Levy is conclusorily alleged to have learned of Bushman's schemes and become Bushman's "surrogate" and "puppet" in representing DeGregorio and continuing the schemes. J.A. [*8] 2396, 2402. Curtis alleges that Levitt was recruited by and is "under the control of Bushman," id. at 2412, and "upon information and belief," Bushman continued to assist Levitt in "seamlessly implement[ing] the fraudulent schemes devised by Bushman," id. at 2411. With respect to the various clients, Curtis alleges, again "upon information and belief," that Bushman counseled Turansky that she could avoid paying fees owed to Curtis if she terminated Curtis for cause and that Bushman would represent her for "a nominal fee." Id. at 2406. Nichols, who is pro se, is alleged on "information and belief" to have been counseled behind the scenes by Bushman. Id. at 2384, 2415. There is a noted dearth of allegations suggesting that the clients were aware or joined in any sort of fraudulent scheme beyond their own individual cases. As these highlighted allegations indicate, the fraudulent "schemes" boil down to little more than speculative and conclusory allegations that the various defendants and others worked together under Bushman's direction. There are no facts alleged to support these implausible allegations of an overarching scheme or schemes, nor is a common intent properly pleaded. Because [*9] Curtis has failed to plead a fraudulent scheme with the requisite particularity, we need not reach the issues of additional pleading deficiencies raised by defendants."