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Iacurci v. Mastronardi

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield, Bridgeport

September 9, 2015

Arthur Iacurci
v.
Gary A. Mastronardi, Esq

MEMORANDUM OF DECISION

Dale W. Radcliffe, J.

FACTS

The Plaintiff, Arthur Iacurci, brings this action in three (3) counts, against his former attorney, Gary Mastronardi.

The Defendant, Gary Mastronardi, represented the Plaintiff in multiple legal matters in 2010 through 2012.

In July of 2010, Arthur Iacurci was the Plaintiff in an action alleging professional negligence or malpractice in connection with the preparation of various income tax returns. The Defendants in the action were Larry Sax, and the accounting firm of Cohen, Burger, Schwartz and Sax, LLC.

When the action was instituted, Arthur Iacurci was not represented by Attorney Mastronardi. The writ, summons and complaint were drafted by Attorney David Fabrizi.

On July 28, 2010, the Defendant, Gary Mastronardi, agreed to replace David Fabrizi as counsel of record, and to enter his appearance in the matter on behalf of Arthur Iacurci. Prior to agreeing to represent Iacurci, an agreement consisting of three paragraphs was drafted by Mastronardi, and signed by both parties. The agreement, which is appended to the Plaintiff's complaint as Exhibit A, provides:

1. My fee shall be a contingent fee; in other words, if we do not prevail in this case either by way of judgment or settlement in your favor, I take no fee;
2. My fee shall be in an amount equal to 40% of any recovery, whether by way of judgment after trial or pretrial/pre-verdict settlement. In recognition of the extreme difficulty and complexity of the issues involved in this case, as well as the high degree of risk of loss that I will be assuming in accepting this case on a fee contingency basis, you agree to waive the applicability of the contingent fee limits set forth under Conn. Gen. Statutes S. 52-251c;
3. You understand and agree to pay all costs and expenses incurred in this action such as, for example, frees for investigators process servers, depositions, filing fees, expert witness fees, etc. These expenses will not be incurred without your advanced approval and authorizations.

Attorney Mastronardi, before agreeing to represent Iacurci, informed him that his chance of prevailing in the litigation was slim. He indicated to the Plaintiff, that the applicable statute of limitations had run prior to the date on which Attorney Fabrizi instituted that action, and that a court might not be permitted to reach the merits of the claim.

After Attorney Mastronardi entered his appearance in the case, the Defendants, Larry Sax and Cohen, Burger, Schwartz and Sax, LLC, filed a motion for summary judgment, claiming that the claim was barred by the statute of limitations. The motion for summary judgment was granted, by the Hon. Michael Hartmere.

Attorney Mastronardi, following Judge Hartmere's ruling, moved to withdraw from the case, so that Arthur Iacurci could obtain an attorney to handle any appeal of the ruling. According to the Defendant, he agreed to remain counsel of record, and to handle the appeal of Judge Hartmere's ruling, after Iacurci orally agreed to pay him ten thousand dollars ($10, 000) to defray the cost of the appeal.

As part of the agreement, Attorney Mastronardi agreed to deduct the agreed upon fee from the proceeds of another case which he was in the process of settling on behalf of Arthur Iacurci. That case, Iacurci v. Lloyds of London, was settled in September of 2011.

At the time of the settlement, Attorney Mastronardi deducted his contingency fee from the settlement, and also retained the $10, 000 agreed upon as the flat fee for handling the appeal of the granting of the summary judgment motion. The settlement statement reveals that $8, 333 was deducted by Mastronardi for his contingency fee in the Lloyds of London matter, and an additional $10, 000 was designated " Fee for Appeal ( Iacurci v. Sax )." The net to Arthur Iacurci was $4, 641.48.

After the Lloyds of London settlement, Attorney Mastronardi litigated the appeal of Judge Hartmere's ruling. An appeal brief was filed on September 21, 2011, and a ...


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