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Adams v. Village of Keesville

August 8, 2008

KAREN MARIE ADAMS, FORMERLY KNOWN AS KAREN MARIE DAVIS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE VILLAGE OF KEESVILLE, MARK J. WHITNEY, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS MAYOR OF THE VILLAGE OF KEESVILLE, WILLIAM SEAVER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EMPLOYEE OF THE VILLAGE OF KEESVILLE, WILLIAM O' CONNOR, INDIVIDUAL AND EMPLOYEE OF KEESVILLE, STANDARD FEDERAL BANK, KATHRYN WILSON SMITH AND KENNETH L. SMITH, DONALD E. LOREMAN, SR., AND AROLYN LOREMAN, AND BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Randolph F. Treece United States Magistrate Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION and ORDER

On April 26, 2007, pro se Plaintiff Karen Marie Adams filed her civil rights Complaint, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, along with several common law causes of actions, against a host of Defendants. Dkt. No. 1, Compl. Within a month, Adams amended her Complaint as a matter of right. Dkt. No. 4, First Am. Compl. Pursuant to a direction within a Memorandum-Decision and Order, dated May 24, 2007, Dkt. No. 5, Adams, once again, amended her Complaint, Dkt. No. 7, Second Am. Compl. Upon receiving permission from this Court to add other parties, on January 16, 2008, Adams filed the Third Amended Complaint. Dkt. No. 57, Third Am. Compl.

On April 2, 2008, the Smith Defendants (the Smiths) filed their Answer, which noted that their attorneys were Niles, Piller, & Bracy, PLLC (hereinafter "NPB"), Michael B. Fisher, Esq., of counsel. Dkt. No. 98. Upon being served with the Smiths' Answer, Adams immediately asked this Court for permission to file a motion to disqualify NPB as the Smiths' attorney. Because of the possibility that sensitive and confidential communications may be disclosed, we granted permission for this motion to disqualify and the opposition to be filed under seal. Text Order, dated Apr. 3, 2008. On May 13, 2008, Adams filed a Sealed Motion to Disqualify NPB. Dkt. No. 129.*fn1 The Smiths filed an Opposition to the Motion. Dkt. No. 133, Sealed Mot. in Opp., dated June 16, 2008.*fn2

On July 8, 2008, Adams filed a Sealed Reply. Dkt. No. 137.*fn3 On July 22, 2008, Adams and Attorney Fisher appeared for a Hearing on the Motion, which was closed to the public. At the conclusion of a lengthy hearing, the Court reserved its decision.

Based upon the moving papers, opposition thereto, and oral argument, the Motion to Disqualify is denied.

I. BACKGROUND*fn4

The allegations within the sizeable yet voluble Third Amended Complaint (52 pages of text and 78 pages of exhibits) are directed at ten Defendants and span approximately five years. Dkt No. 57. Even the Motion to Disqualify regales us with a dizzying array of facts, relationships, and contentions. To cast this Motion and Third Amended Complaint as anything less than an unabridged and labyrinthine dissertation of a half a decade of woe would be disingenuous. The parties' familiarity with these facts are presumed but, with brevity in mind, we are compelled to outline the more salient facts and contentions as to this Motion.

The epicenter of this litigation is a piece of property identified as 1707-1709 Front Street, Keesville, New York. All of the events and all of the parties noted in the Third Amended Complaint have had some connection with a series of transactions relevant to either the occupation, ownership, financing, or previous litigation revolving around this property. And NPB may have a connection with most of these transactions and multiple parties enumerated in the Third Amended Complaint. Adams lost the property through foreclosure and she now alleges that the Defendants conspired with Village of Keesville officials to deprive her of this property without due process and in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. Additionally, there are a sundry of other common law and statutory causes of actions pled against these Defendants. See generally Dkt. No. 57, Third Am. Compl.

Adams charges NPB with a myriad of disciplinary and ethical lapses and breaches spanning at least five years. See infra pp. 18-19, & note 10. Because of these alleged disciplinary violations, particularly those pertaining to the issue of concurrent and successive representations of several parties to this litigation, Adams asserts that NPB should not be allowed to represent the Smiths. Due to the course of the events set forth in the Third Amended Complaint, and probably going back further, Adams complains that NPB and Attorney Evan Bracy, a partner in the law firm, have represented the following people who may be intimately or more than tangentially involved in this litigation:

Rocky Dixon is a creditor of Robert Davis, Adams' ex-husband. Robert Davis was supposed to give Adams a warranty deed to the marital home located at 20 Thompson Road, Keeseville free and clear of any liens. Supposedly, a warranty deed with a lien covenant was provided to her. Adams' complains that Bracy, who notarized the deed, placed a lien covenant within the deed to protect Dixon's debt, which is in contravention of a court order.

Robert Davis NPB, particularly Bracy, represented Davis during his divorce of the Plaintiff. Further, NPB attempted to represent Davis as a creditor in Adams' Bankruptcy but ultimately that representation was withdrawn because of a potential conflict of interest.

The Loremans Donald and Carolyn Loreman were the former owners of the Front Street property who eventually became tenants in the same property when it was owned by Adams.

The Smiths Kathyrn and Kenneth Smith were partners of Adams for a brief period of time. Adams named them as defendants in a fraudulent conveyance action commenced in the Northern District of New York Bankruptcy proceeding. NPB represented the Smiths during this proceeding.

Wm. Seaver is a Village of Keeseville employee. Bracy may have represented Seaver during a divorce. Seaver was a tenant at Front Street when the property was owned by Adams.

Karen Marie Adams the Plaintiff.

See infra Part I.B.

A. Litigation History

As noted above, Adams brought a § 1983 action in this Court in April 2007 against a legion of defendants. NPB was identified throughout the initial Complaint as a Defendant who conspired with others to deprive Adams of her property and caused her irreparable harm. Dkt. No. 1, Compl. As a component of Adams' in forma pauperis application, the Honorable Lawrence E. Kahn, Senior United States District Court Judge conducted a review of her First Amended Complaint. In a Memorandum-Decision and Order, dated May 24, 2007, Judge Kahn, inter alia, dismissed the constitutional claims against private actors, including NPB and Bracy, for failing to show a nexus between New York State and the Village of Keeseville, yet permitting Adams an opportunity to file an amended complaint to "allege claims of misconduct or wrongdoing against Defendants over which this Court may properly exercise jurisdiction." Dkt. No. 5 at pp. 5 & 11. As we know, Adams has since filed a Second and a Third Amended Complaint, but NPB is not named as a defendant.

B. NPB and Defendants*fn5

1. Loremans

The Loremans were the previous owners of 1707-1709 Front Street, which they sold to Adams shortly after a fire at the premises. The basis for the sale was that the insurance funds were inadequate to fully reimburse the Loremans for their loss and they were without resources to fully restore the property to its previous splendor. In order to renovate the structure, Adams sought funding from the Village of Keeseville. NPB represented the Loremans on the transfer of property.

As a part of the closing, the Loremans were supposed to provide Adams with executed warranty documents, which to this day she has not received. Apparently these warranty documents would have been dispositive as to the leasing arrangement struck by Adams and the Loremans. Further, the Loremans, on the advice of their counsel, refused to sign Adams' proposed lease. Attorney Bracy presented another commercial lease, which the parties ultimately executed.

Because the Loremans failed to meet the terms of the revised lease, Adams attempted to evict them during March 2004. With that effort being largely unsuccessful, Adams commenced another eviction proceeding against the Loremans, which eventually went to trial, at which the Loremans were represented by Bracy. Concurrently, the Loremans filed an action in the same town court for the return of the security deposit. During the course of the trial, Adams swears that Bracy said loudly to her attorney that "we've been trying to starve her out for so long we're amazed she ...


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