W. JAMES MAC NAUGHTON VS. POWER LAW FIRM, LLP (L-0523-19, SUSSEX COUNTY AND STATEWIDE)

W

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION This opinion shall not "constitute precedent or be binding upon any court ." Although it is posted on the internet, this opinion is binding only on the parties in the case and its use in other cases is limited. R. 1:36-3. SUPERIOR COURT OF NEW JERSEY APPELLATE DIVISION DOCKET NO. A-3711-19 W. JAMES MAC NAUGHTON, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. POWER LAW FIRM, LLP, JINHEE BAE, and MEGHAN MAIER, Defendants-Respondents. ___________________________ Submitted April 28, 2021 – Decided July 15, 2021 Before Judges Alvarez and Mitterhoff. On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Docket No. L-0523-19. W. James Mac Naughton, appellant pro se. Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman & Dicker, LLP, attorneys for respondents (Michael P. Chipko, of counsel and on the brief). PER CURIAM Plaintiff W. James Mac Naughton appeals from a May 27, 2020 order granting summary judgment to defendants Power Law Firm, LLP, Jinhee Bae (Bae), and Meghan Maier (Maier). On appeal, plaintiff principally argues that the motion judge erred in applying the entire controversy doctrine (ECD) and Rule 4:5-1(b)(2) to dismiss his claims against defendants. We affirm, substantially for the reasons set forth in Judge David J. Weaver's comprehensive twenty-six-page written decision that accompanied the order under review. We discern the following facts from the record. In December 2007, Roger Mac Naughton (Roger) and Madalyn Mac Naughton (Madalyn) executed a Living Trust Agreement prepared by defendant Power Law Firm, LLP. Roger was designated the initial trustee until he was unwilling or unable to serve, at which point plaintiff, George Mac Naughton (George), and Robert Titus (Bob) would serve as co-trustees. Plaintiff is Roger and Madalyn's son, and is also an attorney licensed in New Jersey. George is plaintiff's brother and Bob is plaintiff's brother-in-law. Roger died in 2008, making plaintiff, George, and Bob co-trustees. "In . . . 2012, a dispute arose between the [c]o-[t]rustees concerning the use of a vacation home in Cape Cod, which was one of the trust 's assets." Plaintiff, George, and Bob, as co-trustees, consulted defendants for legal advice A-3711-19 2 regarding the management of the trust's assets. Under the advice and guidance of defendants, the co-trustees entered into an agreement, drafted by plaintiff, for the management of the trust's assets. The agreement vested complete authority over the Cape Cod residence to George and, in exchange, plaintiff and Bob had the right to use the cash accounts for their personal use, to be treated as an advance distribution of the estate. A second dispute arose concerning plaintiff's use of the trust accounts for personal purposes. In March 2017, George and Bob consulted with defendants for legal advice concerning this dispute. Over the next several months, George and Bob worked closely with Maier. Maier sent plaintiff multiple letters informing him, among other things, that he "may be in breach of [his] fiduciary duties." In May 2017, plaintiff wrote to Maier asking "who [she] and [her] firm represent[ed] in this matter." After …

Original document

Add comment

By

Recent Posts

Recent Comments