This is very troubling news for Magic. I wonder how many people would have paid, or will pay, $3,000 for a co-op share after reading this.
Law firm settles claim against former partner
By Daniel Tepfer Staff writer Updated: 10/19/2009 03:08:30 PM EDT BRIDGEPORT --
A Fairfield law firm has agreed to pay more than $1 million to former clients who were ripped off by a member of the firm who left his law practice two years ago to take over a Vermont ski resort.
In a settlement reached before Superior Court Judge Richard Arnold, the firm of Kevin Maher and Scott Williams agreed to pay $1.5 million to settle two lawsuits involving former associate James Sullivan.
"This litigation goes back 12 years," said plaintiffs' lawyer, Douglas Mahoney of Tremont and Sheldon. "My clients were truly victimized by attorney Sullivan and they are glad the matter is finally over." Williams declined to comment on the settlement.
Sullivan, who left the area in 2007 in order to run Magic Mountain in Londonderry, Vt., could not be reached for comment. He was not in court for the settlement.
In April 1999, five members of the Sieling family of Newtown were injured in a motor vehicle accident when their car was hit head-on by another driver, according to their lawsuit. The family had hired Sullivan to represent them in a lawsuit seeking damages for their injuries against the other driver.
Sullivan filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family in 2001 at Bridgeport Superior Court. But when he took no other action, the case was dismissed by a judge.
But Sullivan never told the Sieling family the case had been dismissed, according to the malpractice claim, and until late 2006 was telling the family their case was pending and that everything was fine.
Mahoney said Sullivan would meet to prepare the family for court procedures, but the case never moved forward. He said the Sieling family did not learn about the case's dismissal until they became concerned by how long the process was taking and spoke to another lawyer.
In a second lawsuit, Dr. Roy Kalman of Woodbridge, said he hired Sullivan in 1999 to collect disability insurance benefits that he was owed. From 1999 through the end of 2006, Sullivan told Kalman he was aggressively pursuing his case and had filed lawsuits against the insurance companies to collect those benefits, the lawsuit states.
It was not until after Sullivan began operating his ski resort that Kalman learned that his lawyer had never filed the lawsuits against the insurance companies, Mahoney said.
Sullivan, who has been practicing law since 1993, is president of Magic Mountain and managing partner of a management team that bought the bankrupt resort. He lives in Manchester, Vt.