Timonthy Moynanhan and Martin Minella practiced law together for three decades years in Waterbury, forming a formidable practice known for its work in criminal defense as well as other practice areas. Now they’re adversaries in a civil suit, as Moynahan has accused his former colleague of taking client files when the pair split up two years ago.
Minella says he’s shocked by the lawsuit, which makes breach of contract and unfair trade practice claims. He describes Timothy Moynahan as a mentor, someone who was “like a brother to him.”

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be a lawyer,” Minnella said. “I characterize it as mind-boggling,” he said of the suit filed in Waterbury Superior Court. “I don’t understand it; it’s absolutely out of character.”

Minnella said he is hoping that the two can resolve the case by the return date on the lawsuit, which is July 22.

Moynahan declined to comment, referring calls to his lawyer, Waterbury attorney John Majewski, who did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Moynahan, who also handles commercial, employment and personal injury law cases, has practiced law in Waterbury since 1964. He’s well-known not only for his courtroom work, but for his involvement in groups ranging from the Chamber of Commerce to the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association to Post University. He’s also a founding member and chairman of the board of the Global Virus Network, which works to identify, investigate and control viral diseases worldwide.

Minnella worked with Moynahan at Moynahan & Minnella for about 30 years until 2012 when Minnella left and started Minella, Tramuta & Edwards in Middlebury. The lawsuit claims that when Minnella left, he took more than 100 clients, along with their files, from the Waterbury firm of Moynahan & Minella.

In his lawsuit, Moynahan alleges that he is owed money from the fees that Minnella and his two new partners collected from representing those clients.

“Although the defendants claim to have provided an accounting at some unspecified date with respect to any or all of the more than 130 files taken by the defendants from the Moynahan firm and promised, in January 2014 to provide an ‘updated’ accounting, in fact they have … refused to do so,” the lawsuit claims. “Nor have the defendants provided proof that the funds in dispute are being held separately as required, pending the resolution of any dispute.”

The suit also claims that Minnella was never a partner at the Moynahan & Minnella firm.

Minnella said he was 19 and Moynahan was 30 when they met through family members. “He was best man at my wedding. He is my kid’s godfather. He’s been my mentor since I was 19,” Minnella said.

“Everything I know I learned from him,” Minnella said. “I would do anything for him, even today.”

Minnella said that when he left the firm in 2012, he believe he and Moynahan to be on good terms. “I don’t think there’s merit to the suit. Hopefully it will get resolved,” Minnella said.