United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Bridget Trice, as trustee for the heirs and next of kin of Devyn Bolton, deceased, Plaintiff,
Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, Hunter J. Shkolnik, and Paul Napoli Law PLLC, Defendants.
S. Rahne, Esq., and Ena M. Kovacevic, Esq., Robins Kaplan
LLP, Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Plaintiff.
W.Vaccaro, Esq., and M. Gregory Simpson, Esq., Meagher &
Geer, P.L.L.P., Minneapolis, MN, on behalf of Defendants
Napoli Shkolnik PLLC and Paul Napoli Law PLLC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
MONTGOMERY U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
4, 2019, the undersigned United States District Judge heard
oral argument on Napoli Shkolnik PLLC (“NS”) and
Paul Napoli Law PLLC's (“PNL”) Rule 12 Motion
to Dismiss [Docket No. 23], and Plaintiff Bridget Trice's
(“Trice”) Motion for Leave to Amend the Complaint
[Docket No. 53]. For the reasons set forth below, NS and
PNL's Motion is denied and Trice's Motion is granted.
is the trustee for the heirs and next of kin of her daughter
Devyn Bolton (“Bolton”). First Am. Compl. [Docket
No. 18] ¶ 3. In 2006, Bolton was a passenger in a car
stopped at an intersection in St. Paul, Minnesota when a
Toyota Camry slammed into the car. Id. ¶ 12.
Bolton died in 2007 from injuries she sustained in the crash.
NS is a
New York City law firm formed in 2015. First M. Napoli Decl.
[Docket No. 31] ¶ 2. Hunter J. Shkolnik
(“Shkolnik”) is a partner with NS. First Am.
Compl. ¶ 6. PNL is a law firm formed in 2014 and is
also located in New York City. P. Napoli Decl. [Docket No.
32] ¶ 2. None of NS or PNL's partners reside in
Minnesota or hold a Minnesota law license. First M. Napoli
Decl. ¶¶ 3-4; P. Napoli Decl. ¶¶ 3-4.
Neither firm maintains any offices, bank accounts, or real
property in Minnesota or has any agents for service of
process in Minnesota. First M. Napoli Decl. ¶¶ 5-6;
P. Napoli Decl. ¶¶ 5-6.
2010, Trice sued Toyota Motor Corporation
(“Toyota”) in Minnesota state court, alleging a
design defect in the Toyota Camry caused the 2006 accident.
First Am. Compl. ¶ 12; see also Trice v. Toyota
Motor Corp., Civ. No. 10-2804 (“Toyota
Litigation”). The case was removed to the United States
District Court for the District of Minnesota. See
Notice Removal [Toyota Litigation Docket No. 1].
2012, Trice hired Shkolnik and his predecessor law firm,
Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik (“NBRS”) to act as
lead litigation counsel in the Toyota Litigation. First Am.
Compl. ¶ 1. Trice alleges she terminated Defendants in
2014 for making an unauthorized settlement demand on Toyota.
Id. ¶¶ 1, 15-16. Trice also alleges that
she later learned Defendants failed to disclose to Toyota
during discovery the full amount of medical expenses Bolton
incurred as a result of her injuries. Id.
¶¶ 2, 18-21. Defendants disclosed approximately $1
million in medical expenses, while the full amount was
approximately $1.5 million. Id. ¶¶ 2, 21.
trial in the Toyota Litigation, the Court precluded Trice
from recovering any medical expenses not disclosed in
discovery. Id. ¶ 23. Toyota stipulated to the
$1 million in medical expenses that had been disclosed.
Id. ¶¶ 22-23. In February 2015, a jury
returned a verdict in Trice's favor in the Toyota
Litigation. Id. ¶ 24. The judgment entered for
Trice included $1 million in stipulated medical expenses,
plus prejudgment interest of 10%. Id. ¶ 25.
conclusion of the trial in the Toyota Litigation, Trice moved
for a distribution of disputed attorneys' fees.
See Pl.'s Mot. [Toyota Litigation Docket No.
716]. NS filed a response arguing that NS was formerly NBRS,
and that NS conducted significant work in the Toyota
Litigation entitling it to recovery in quantum meruit for its
services. See Resp. [Toyota Litigation Docket No.
746, Attach. 1] at 3 (“Napoli Shkolnik (formerly Napoli
Bern Ripka Shkolnik) conducted significant work on this
action, and has asserted a lien for the reasonable value of
its services.”); id. at 2 (stating
“Napoli Shkolnik (then NBRS) first became involved in
these matters in July 2012, ” and “NS did
considerable work on this matter”); Farnolo Decl.