DHL heir files new suit against David Lujan - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

DHL heir files new suit against David Lujan

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - A California court may have thrown out a civil suit filed against him, but prominent local attorney David Lujan isn't out of the woods just yet.  A new civil suit has been filed in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, alleging Lujan and others went out of their way to get more than what they were entitled to. 

DHL heir Junior Larry Hillbroom isn't giving up on his claims that Lujan, his former lawyer, conspired with others to take tens of millions of dollars he received from his father's estate.  In the latest complaint filed in the District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands, Hillbroom, who is represented by Saipan attorney Mark Hanson, is alleging legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, civil conspiracy, and racketeering.  Because a similar lawsuit filed in California against Lujan was dismissed, because the court lacked jurisdiction, Hillbroom is now taking the case to the CNMI, where he alleges many of the events in question occurred. 

Lujan represented the DHL heir in 1995.  At that time Lujan and the family immigration law clinic equally shared a 22% contingency fee.  Lujan then retained Barry Israel to assist him in representing junior and his interests.  In 1997, a settlement was reached, leaving Hillbroom and three other heirs of the DHL co-founders $550 million estate with about 15% each (or $90 million dollars).

As the money started pouring into Hillbroom's trust, that's when he claims Lujan, Israel and others conspired to increase the retainer agreement increasing their fees to 38% of the total amount junior recovered. 

Attorney Hanson, in his moving papers, believes the Hillbroom probate court capped fees for all attorneys in the case including Lujan in the mid-30% range.  A year later, Keith Waibel was hired to serve as trustee of the JLH Trust.  Hillbroom alleges the three men continued to take money from his trust through the guise of guardian and protector fees and daily expenses.

But in September 2000, the attorney's contingency fee ballooned for a third time, to 56% - more than half of what Hillbroom was entitled to.  Hillbroom alleges Lujan and the others further perpetrated the fraud by backdating the retainer agreement to April 15, 1999.

Court documents state that Lujan appeared in court alone to have the retainer approved and there was never a real contest because he was only 16 at the time and had no knowledge of any conspiracy.  (That is, until Hillbroom met with an FBI agent in November 2006 in San Francisco and was told that Lujan and others stole money, only leaving him with $12 million of the $90 million he received.)

Lujan, who often takes high-profile cases such as former governor Carl Gutierrez's criminal case involving the Government of Guam Retirement Fund, still faces two civil suits in Hawaii filed by Waibel, who alleges Lujan misappropriated and took money in other transactions.  The local attorney also filed his own defamation suit in the local court against Hillbroom's California-based lawyers.

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