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The D.C. Court of Appeals ruled last week that Paley Rothman can garnish the wages of Benson Fischer after the firm won nearly $1 million on counterclaims that Fischer had engaged in bad-faith litigation against the firm and a client. Fischer had sued over a contract dispute with Paley client Howard Flax relating to his efforts to obtain investors for one of Fischer’s companies. In 2000, then-D.C. Superior Court Judge Steffen Graae awarded $930,000 to Paley Rothman and Flax on their counterclaims. A jury also awarded $300,000 to Flax on his contract claim. Graae had denied a motion by Paley Rothman to enforce a writ of attachment against Fischer’s family-owned bakery. The D.C. appeals court vacated that decision, ruling that D.C. law on garnishment allows the writ. The bakery closed in 2003, and Fischer filed for bankruptcy the same year, but a $727,000 insurance settlement was frozen, and part of those proceeds will help pay the uncollected judgments, says attorney Frank Mastro of Whiteford, Taylor & Preston in Baltimore ,who represents both Paley Rothman and the estate of the now-deceased Flax. Solo practitioner Barry Haberman, who represented Fischer, didn’t return a call seeking comment.
Brendan Smith can be contacted at [email protected].

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