United States District Court, D. Connecticut
NITOR V. EGBARIN, Plaintiff,
HOFFMANN & ASSOCIATES & ANDREW S. HOFFMANN, Defendants.
RULING AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
case concerns three letters sent by Hoffmann &
Associates, Andrew S. Hoffmann (collectively
“Defendants”), and Clara Suh, to a United States
District Court Judge, a Hartford attorney, and the five
attorneys associated with a related case, including Nitor V.
Egbarin (“Plaintiff”). Compl., ECF No. 1-1,
letters relate to an attorney's fee dispute involving Mr.
Egbarin and his former clients, Aleeshia and Charles Hudson
(“the Hudsons”). Id. Mr. Egbarin alleges
that the three letters constitute vexatious litigation and
defamation per se, and that Defendants' conduct, alleged
to be extreme and outrageous, caused him to suffer severe
emotional distress for which he is entitled to monetary
have moved to dismiss the case.
reasons discussed below, the Court now
GRANTS Defendants' motion to dismiss,
ECF No. 8.
extent that the deficiencies detailed in this ruling can be
addressed, Plaintiff must file a motion for leave to amend
the Complaint, along with the proposed amended Complaint, by
April 12, 2019, or the Court will instruct the Clerk of Court
to close this case.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
September of 2014, Aleeshia and Charles Hudson “entered
into a retainer agreement with attorneys Nitor Egbarin, Esq.
and Gregory Osakwe, Esq. as joint counsel” in the
Hudsons' actions against defendants Progressive Financial
Services, Inc. and Navient Solutions, Inc. Compl. against
Att'y [State of Connecticut Judicial Branch form JD-GC-6
Rev. 9-12] (signed by Charles Hudson, Nov. 6, 2017)
(“Charles Hudson Grievance”), ECF No. 1-1 at
According to the Hudsons, Mr. Egbarin and Mr. Osakwe reached
separate settlement agreements with both defendants.
Id. Thereafter, the Hudsons received the proceeds of
the settlements less the amounts retained by the attorneys.
Id. at 20-21. The Hudsons felt that the amounts
retained by Mr. Egbarin and Mr. Osakwe exceeded the amounts
they were entitled to under their Retainer Agreement.
point in the fall of 2017, the Hudsons hired Hoffmann &
Associates to represent them in their fee dispute against Mr.
Egbarin and Mr. Osakwe. Def. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.
Mot. to Dismiss Compl., ECF No. 8-1, at 3.
November 6, 2017, the Hudsons filed separate complaints with
the Connecticut Judicial Branch against Mr. Egbarin and Mr.
Osakwe. Charles Hudson Grievance; Compl. against Att'y
[State of Connecticut Judicial Branch form JD-GC-6 Rev. 9-12]
(signed by Aleeshia Hudson, Nov. 6, 2017) (“Aleeshia
Hudson Grievance”), ECF No. 1-1 at 24-29.
November 9, 2017, Clara Suh of Hoffmann & Associates sent
by e-mail a letter to the two attorneys. E-mailed Letter from
Clara Suh to Nitor Egbarin and Gregory Osakwe (Nov. 9, 2017),
ECF No. 1-1 at 15. In the letter, Ms. Suh alleged that
“[w]e have tried for months to resolve with you the
payments that [the Hudsons] are entitled to receive from the
settlement proceeds, and you have been very much less than
cooperative.” Id. Ms. Suh then proposed a
settlement involving payment of just under $95, 000 (i.e.,
representing the amount allegedly owed to the Hudsons less
costs such as deposition transcript fees). Id. Ms.
Suh gave the attorneys roughly twenty-four hours to accept
the offer. Id. The next day, Defendants allegedly
sent a letter to United States District Judge Michael Shea,
of the District of Connecticut, “to report serious
misconduct” by Plaintiff. Compl., ECF No. 1-1, ¶
10; Def. Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def. Mot. to Dismiss Compl.
March 22, 2018, Andrew Hoffmann wrote to John J. Quinn,
counsel to the Hartford Judicial District Grievance Panel for
Geographical Area 13 (i.e., the panel reviewing the
Hudsons' grievances). Letter from Andrew S. Hoffmann to
John J. Quinn (“Hoffmann-Quinn Letter, ” Mar. 22,
2018), ECF No. 1-1 at 31-33. In that letter, Mr. Hoffmann
accused Mr. Egbarin of “twist[ing] facts”,
“theft”, and “self dealing.”
Id. at 31-32.
April 5, 2018, the Hartford Judicial District Grievance Panel
for Geographical Area 13 (“Grievance Panel”)
dismissed both of the Hudsons' grievances. Letter from
John J. Quinn to Aleeshia Hudson (Apr. 5, 2018), ECF No. 1-1;
Letter from John J. Quinn to Charles Hudson (Apr. 5, 2018),
ECF No. 1-1 at 35-38. The Grievance Panel found that the
Hudsons' case involved “fee-shifting” and
that “no probable cause exists that the respondent
committed misconduct.” Id.
one month after the Grievance Panel dismissed the
Hudsons' complaints, Mr. Egbarin sued Andrew Hoffmann,
the Hudsons' attorney, and his law firm in the Superior
Court for the Judicial District of Hartford. Compl., ECF No.
1-1, 4-12. The Complaint alleges four grounds for relief: (1)
vexatious litigation, (2) defamation per se, (3) intentional
infliction of emotional distress, and (4) negligent
infliction of emotional distress. Id. Mr. Egbarin
seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, double damages
under Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-568, treble damages under
Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-568, fees, and interest.
1, 2018, Defendants removed the case from the Superior Court
of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford to this Court.
Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.
2, 2018, Defendants moved to dismiss the Complaint. Notice of
Mot. to Dismiss Compl., ECF No. 8.
9, 2018, Mr. Egbarin opposed the motion to dismiss. Pl. Mem.
of Law in Opp. to Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 12.
24, 2018, Defendants replied. Def. Reply Affirm. of Andrew S.
Hoffmann, ECF No. 16.
March 7, 2019, the Court held a hearing on the motion to
dismiss. Minute Entry [Motion to Dismiss Hearing], ECF No.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Any claim that fails
“to state a claim upon which relief can be
granted” will be dismissed. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). In
reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), a court applies a