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Similar Cases, Similar Results Print E-mail

ughes & Bentzen attorneys were successful representing plaintiffs in two similar cases in the past year.  One case was brought in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, and the second was commenced in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland.  Each case involved a “finder” who brought a valuable asset to a deal – a well-endowed investor or a large merger – pursuant to an oral agreement.  In each case, the “other” party, the defendant, decided that he did not want to pay for the benefit received. 

In the District of Columbia litigation, the court awarded judgment in the full amount sought, over $350,000, plus interest going back almost seven years.  The defendants have noted  an appeal to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.  However, the firm is proceeding to collect on the judgment as the defendants have not obtained a stay pending appeal.

Each of these cases was hard fought and involved complicated factual and legal issues.

In the Montgomery County case, the plaintiff, a consultant, brought a $15,000,000 merger to his client.  Although the defendant acknowledged that the deal could not have been accomplished without the introduction and intervention of the plaintiff, the defendant refused to compensate the plaintiff for the immense benefit received.  The Montgomery Circuit Court threw out the plaintiff’s case on a motion for summary judgment, and Hughes & Bentzen filed an appeal to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.  The result was reversal of the lower court’s decision, and the case has been remanded to the Circuit Court.  The case is now proceeding on plaintiff’s claim of unjust enrichment and is valued in excess of $300,000.

Each of these cases was hard fought and involved complicated factual and legal issues.  The Hughes & Bentzen attorneys involved in the District of Columbia case were Christopher Wheeler and Philip McNutt.  In the Maryland case, the laboring oars were manned by Michael Bentzen and Christopher Wheeler.

 These cases underscore the importance of getting agreements reduced to writing in advance of performing the services for which compensation is requested.  After the benefit has been received, the recipient is not highly motivated to do the honorable thing and pay fair compensation for services rendered, received and accepted.  The time and expense of litigation often can be avoided by a detailed, fair agreement that includes payment of the prevailing party’s legal expenses in the event of a breach.  Hughes & Bentzen recommends that business clients consult with experienced legal counsel to negotiate, prepare and execute an agreement before services are rendered.

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