Center for Individual Rights claims pro bono client owes retainer

By Elizabeth Alt | Jun 16, 2018

The Center for Individual Rights, a public interest law firm organized under the laws of the District of Columbia, on May 30 In U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida sued former pro bono client Irina Chevaldina for a breach of contract worth $105,000.

MIAMI – The Center for Individual Rights, a public interest law firm organized under the laws of the District of Columbia, on May 30 In U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida sued former pro bono client  Irina Chevaldina for a breach of contract worth $105,000. 

CIR represented Chevaldina on a pro bono basis in the 11th Circuit Case Katz v. Google. CIR paid for the court fees and any expenses, and asked Chevaldina to reimburse them for reasonable attorney’s fees, including if she settled. CIR claims Chevaldina settled that case, only obtaining $10,000 in attorney’s fees, and persuaded CIR to drop its challenge of the award.

The court denied CIR’s motion to compel non-party Gelber, Schacter, & Greenberg, P.A. to produce documents in response to a subpoena served on Aug. 18 that related to the Katz v. Chevaldina lawsuit. CIR alleged that GSG had documents proving GSG negotiated an agreement between Katz and Chevaldina to settle the case with “Chevaldina’s complete knowledge and approval and that the requested documents establish that Chevaldina breached her retainer agreement.” The order agreed with GSG that the documents it had not produced were confidential.

CIR’s request to compel the redesignation of documents that GSG produced to Chevaldina was denied with the judges stating, “there is no need to change the designation of these documents when they are already considered confidential in a separate litigation and where there is no prejudice to plaintiff in filing them under seal.”

CIR’s motion for a protective order to preclude Ms. Mandel, whom Chevaldina filed a motion to compel deposition from for “knowingly and willfully distributing Chevaldina’s protected personal information on linkdin.com” from deposition was granted, noting that Chevaldina had failed to establisher that Mandel, a partner of the law office of Mandel Y Mandel, was a party to the litigation.

The order granted CIR the motion to preclude evidence that Chevaldina has failed to supplement her initial disclosures with a calculation of damages. the judge noted that Chevaldina has alleged “a plethora of economic, physical, and emotional maladies” caused by CIR, but failed to produce any documents or witnesses. The court order says, “Chevaldina is precluded from introducing any evidence of damages that she incurred on any of her claims or using any witnesses not previously identified.”

The order granted the motion to compel Chevaldina to provide better responses to requests where Chgevaldina either repeated previous replies or did not reply, stating “Chevaldina’s objections are boilerplate, they are essentially meaningless and provide no basis to deny plaintiff’s motion.”

CIR was denied fees and costs of this trial.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, case number 16-20905-Civ-KING/TORRES

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