Freydl v. Meringolo

Full title: T. PATRICK FREYDL, Plaintiff, v. JOHN C. MERINGOLO et al., Defendants.

Court: UNITED STATES DISTRICT Court, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

09 Civ. 7196 (JPO)

Date published: Mar 29, 2013

Fact:

This case concerns the disintegration of a professional and personal relationship. John C. Meringolo (“Meringolo”) is an attorney in New York State, and his law firm, Meringolo & Associates, P.C. (“M&A”) is a duly authorized professional corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York and engaged in the practice of law. Patrick T. Freydl (“Freydl”)  is a disbarred California attorney, suspended Michigan attorney, and the sole owner of the California corporation Freydl & Associates (“F&A”).

Freydl and Meringolo first met in 2004. In 2005, Freydl began to assist Meringolo in Meringolo’s legal work; their association was “something in between” a professional relationship and a friendship. In his Amended Complaint, Freydl states that he offered some services “voluntarily and gratuitously,” while he received compensation for others. Though Freydl was undisputedly compensated by M&A to some extent, the method by which this compensation was determined is hotly contested by the parties. Whereas Defendants assert that Freydl’s compensation was determined “solely” by Meringolo as CEO of M&A, Freydl asserts that he and Meringolo regularly communicated concerning the appropriate compensation for Freydl associated with a given matter.

Issue:

Conclusion:

The shifting details of contractual liability and the convoluted paper record in this case raise questions about Plaintiff’s claims and Defendants’ counterclaim. Those questions are compounded by the parties’ informal working relationship, with arrangements apparently made on an ad hoc, oral basis, and payments made without any specification of precisely what work they were intended to compensate. But these questions ultimately go to credibility. It is perhaps difficult to conclude on this record that a reasonable jury could find contractual liability (or quasi-contractual liability)—difficult, but not impossible. Oral agreements are binding in these circumstances. Whether Plaintiff can establish that he was short-changed by Defendant is ultimately a question for the factfinder.

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. All of Plaintiff’s claims as against individual defendant John  Meringolo are dismissed. Plaintiff’s claims based on the Galasso and Graffagnino matters are dismissed. In all other respects, Defendants’ motion for summary judgment is denied.

Plaintiff’s motion for judgment on the pleadings with respect to Defendants’ counterclaim is DENIED.

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