Here are some D'Angio Law offices' recent notable results:
1) D’Angio Law Offices represented a Plaintiff who was the sole beneficiary of a trust created by his parents solely for benefit. The Trustees were his brothers. When their father passed the house was sold and proceeds of over $500,000 were entrusted to the Defendants. The Defendants consistently wrote checks to each other, and then they informed the Plaintiff that the trust was depleted. This went to trial where the Court terminated the trust, and ordered the Defendants to repay $141,000 to the Plaintiff and awarded attorney’s fees under G.L. c. 215, §15.The mother of all parties, who will by 100 years old in June, testified at trial. The trial was tried over two days in February 2020.
2) The plaintiffs, an elderly couple, were tenants in a multi-family house in Waltham. The plaintiffs’ unit included a basement area where the electrical panel was located. The elderly man frequently had to reset the circuit breaker for other tenants, who did not have access to the panel. The electrical panel was never updated and continued to overload on a regular basis following a 2013 fire. On March 30, 2014, approximately a year after a ceiling fixture incident, a fire erupted from the electrical panel, displacing everyone in the building and damaging the bulk of the plaintiffs’ possessions. The plaintiffs, who were of limited means, had to borrow money to live in a hotel for five weeks and spent the next five months in their vacation camper 70 miles away, forcing the man, who still worked, to have a 140-mile round-trip commute to his job in Waltham. Plaintiffs’ counsel sent a detailed G.L.c. 93A letter to the landlord, who offered nothing, The plaintiffs then filed suit. At the beginning of the trial, the parties agreed that the judge would separately decide the 93A issues, with the remaining issues for the jury. After a nine-day trial, the jury on Feb. 8 returned a total combined verdict of $82,500 on negligence and breach of quiet enjoyment claims. On May 24, the judge doubled the jury’s verdict and awarded attorneys’ fees of $115,365, less than half the amount requested by the plaintiffs, with the judge basing the reduction primarily on causes of action that were dismissed on summary judgment and duplication of efforts. With four years’ interest, the total judgment was more than $360,000.
3) In 2007, the decedent first lent the defendant $40,000, followed shortly thereafter with another loan for $100,000. The defendant executed one-year “balloon” mortgages for both loans, but the loans were in third position on two rental properties she owned in Newton. Both mortgages were “interest only,” with a payoff ostensibly within one year. At the time of the loans, the defendant had little equity in the properties due to the 2007 economic situation. The decedent died suddenly in 2013, with balances remaining on both loans. The decedent had extended the one-year “balloon” mortgages repeatedly, but had neglected to record an extension at the Registry of Deeds. Accordingly, due to the mortgage lapse statute, five years after the mortgages were to be paid in full in 2008, they lapsed, rendering the estate unsecured. After the death of the decedent, the defendant acknowledged to counsel for the estate that she owed the entirety of the $100,000, having only paid interest on that loan, but claimed that the smaller loan, which did not involve a third party, had been paid down so that the balance was less than $5,000. Because the mortgages had lapsed, the defendant attempted unsuccessfully to get the estate to rewrite the loans at a lower interest rate over a longer period, which was not agreeable. D’Angio Law Offices represented the Plaintiff and brought suit against the Defendant. In a bench trial, the Court found that the balances owed were $114,551.21 on the larger loan and $81,598.74 on the smaller loan, and awarded attorneys’ fees of $69,240.50 as per the original loan documents.
4) The plaintiff and the defendant were sisters, the sole children of their mother, who passed away in 2007 leaving her estate equally to them, with one receiving her share free of trust and acting as trustee of her sister’s share in a “spendthrift” trust. The plaintiff filed various actions in Middlesex Probate & Family Court seeking an accounting, removal of the trustee and damages. There was also an ancillary claim against a financial services company for negligently paying the proceeds of a retirement devise to the defendant, when the named beneficiary was the spendthrift. At the outset of litigation, the plaintiff primarily sought an accounting because she had not been provided with a true accounting since her mother’s death. There were several mediations early on wherein the trustee offered to settle for the amount remaining in the trust, approximately $89,000. As discovery continued, it became apparent that the plaintiff was entitled to significantly more for a variety of reasons alleged by the plaintiff. Among them, the trustee had lived in the decedent’s home rent-free for about six years; had taken far more in assets than the beneficiary had received; had mishandled IRAs, accruing unnecessary tax liabilities; had attributed virtually all the tax liabilities to the plaintiff’s side of the leger; had retained tax refunds; and had transferred a foreign vacation condominium to her own daughter. After more than two years and at least $350,000 in legal fees being expended among all parties, the defendant hired new counsel. Within two months of being retained, the new counsel agreed to a mediation with James DeGiacomo of Murtha Cullina in Boston, which resulted in the settlement. The plaintiff received $307,000, and the other two defendants contributed $110,000 toward her legal fees. The court allowed the settlement and the termination of the trust, with the proceeds distributed to the plaintiff.
5) The plaintiff had cared for her parents for several years when they decided to transfer their property to the plaintiff. The house had previously been in a trust dividing the property equally between the plaintiff and her two siblings. Years after the plaintiff received the house, she became seriously ill. The siblings, with the assistance of a lawyer who had represented all of them at one time or another (and was the brother-in-law of the plaintiff’s brother) witnessed a deed that transferred the property to all three siblings again. At the time the deed was established, the plaintiff had just returned from months of hospitalization and was depressed, anxious and weighed approximately 80 pounds. She was given no notice of the transaction, which was completed in her home. Three years later, a different lawyer arrived at the house and waited in the car while the two siblings met with the plaintiff, seeking to have her sign away her interest in the property to her brother and sister. The defendants acknowledged “pressuring” the plaintiff and giving her an ultimatum, then signaling the waiting lawyer to come into the house after the plaintiff indicated she was “willing to sign the deed.” The plaintiff was at least as ill as when the first deed was signed. She was again given no notice and essentially had not spoken to her brother since she signed the prior deed. In defending against the allegation of undue influence on the second deed, the defendants alleged that the plaintiff had committed financial impropriety with the father’s accounts, and that the deed was in consideration for not pursuing those alleged claims. No documentary evidence of impropriety was introduced at trial, other than the fact that the father’s funds had gradually dissipated after he retired. The plaintiff brought suit seeking to set aside both deeds on fraud, undue influence and other causes of action. After a seven-day trial, the jury set aside the second deed, restoring the plaintiff to a one-third ownership in the property with her siblings. The defendants prevailed on the other claims.