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Hi I live in South Africa now. I worked for a company in The Netherlands, which raised funds from high net-worth US clients, primarily in the Medical and Dental fields. In 2002, 13 out of about 4000 US clients, filed a Civil suit against myself, the other Director and the company itself, for alleged fraud. The total amount they sued for was over $8 million. Three of these clients are in Michigan State, the rest of them practice in other individual States. This Civil case led to the start of a Criminal case in The Netherlands. After 9 years, the Criminal case was ended with zero sentences awarded, no admissions of guilt etc. I was declared innocent in the Civil case in February 2013 and awarded costs by the Judge. (which I have no idea of how to get the costs back from US clients)I have now waited the 90 days for them to appeal. There were no appeals and subsequently the freeze on my assets has been lifted. The various allegations, articles etc. about my name and case are easily searchable on the internet. I would like to know if there is any merit in pursuing a counter suit against the 13 clients in the various States in the USA for financial losses, tarnished business name etc. etc. now that I have won both my cases, or is there a statute of limitations for this? I would be well prepared to settle out of court. I obviously wanted to end all the cases against me in The Netherlands first before taking on additional legal representation. Also, if there is merit in pursuing, can this be done on a contingent fee basis? Please let me know if you require any additional information. My email address is:XXX@XXXXXX.XXX Regards XXXXX XXXXX
Thank you for your quick response. Below are the US States where the clients reside.
I was awarded about Euro 4000 in costs by the Dutch courts in February, but I have no idea how to chase these funds in the USA. Is there a treaty between the USA and The Netherlands where the Dutch court verdict can be enforced directly in the US? Or would I need to start new proceedings in the US to get a US court to enforce?
I know that there are statutes of limitations, but I obviously only wanted to start proceedings once I was declared innocent.
NUMBER OF CLIENTS
Sean,Thank you for your follow-up. Please bear with me as you have a very detail oriented response.First of all I am unaware of any specific treaty but what you can do is retain local counsel in whatever state you decide to pursue your claim, go to their local courthouse, and pursue 'domestication' of judgment. It is essentially a request that the local courts treat the judgment as if it were granted by the existing court, and consequently then permit you to collect on the judgment based on that state's and that jurisdiction's rules. For example if you choose to domesticate in California, you would then be able to pursue collection of this judgment under California law and California restrictions.In terms of limitations for defamation, I will go state by state and give you a quick rundown of statutory limitations as each state had different laws. You would need to pursue each party individually or find one location where you can file a massive suit in federal court of that state against all of the participants. Under US law if you file in a Federal court, those courts follow Federal guidelines but would still be bound by state statutory limitations and local precedent. The statute of limitations for defamation in Michigan is one (1) year. Mich. Comp. Law §(NNN) NNN-NNNN7) (1961).
The statute of limitations for defamation in Washington is two (2) years. See Wash. Rev. Code sec. 4.16.100.
The statute of limitations for defamation is one (1) year in Arizona. See A.R.S. § 12‑541.
California's statute of limitations for defamation is one (1) year. See California Code of Civil Procedure 340(c).
The statute of limitations for defamation in Illinois is one (1) year. See 735 ILCS 5/13-201
For Minnesota this is two years from the date of publication. Minn. Stat. 541.07Missouri has a two year statute from date of publication. http://law.justia.com/codes/missouri/2005/t35/5160000140.html
The statue of limitations for defamation in North Carolina is one (1) year. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-54.
Oklahoma has a 1 year statute of limitations and so does Oregon.In the US defamation claims are very uncertain. It is very unlikely that you would be able to find an attorney to take this on contingency, especially based on the complexity and the amount of parties in this matter.Good luck.
The Dutch court awarded me $5300 collectively among the 13 plaintiffs. If I was to have the judgement domesticated in the US in each State mentioned, would I be able to ask for $5300 from each client in those States, or only the $5300 divided by the 13 clients?
I find it ridiculous that some annoyed clients can start proceedings against me, have my accounts frozen for 10 years and then I am found innocent with no damages for the inconvenience caused. It cost me over $200 000 to defend!
Thank you for your follow-up, Sean.I am not sure how your order was written but in the US there is a concept of 'joint and separate' liability. Under that order, the victim can pursue collection from any or all of the parties for the full amount, and it would be up to the remaining parties to figure out between themselves how to cover the costs. For example if you choose to pursue the person in Oregon, you could obtain the whole amount from him directly, and he would then have to file suit personally against others to recoup their potion of the award. But I have no idea how your specific order was written as it is not from US law, but if it is similar in nature, you could argue that the intent is the same which would allow you to maybe pick one or two individuals who have the largest pockets, go after them, and have them worry about splitting the liability.I also did not say that you could not pursue damages, I simply provided to you the statutory limitations on the deadlines you have to work with if you decide to file.Hope that helps and kindly do not forget to positively rate my answers to you so that I may obtain credit for my work. Thank you.
I will rate you positively!
I think I misunderstood you. Does the statute of 1 year for instance in California start when they originally filed against me 10 years ago, or does it start from when the Court in The Netherlands declared me innocent in February 2013?
In your opinion, what do you think it would cost me in each state to have the Dutch court order "domesticated" in each state.
These 13 clients sued me for over $12 million and they lost. Obviously I am peeved off and I have lost huge business by people searching me over the net, but is there really any option you think I can pursue in order to achieve any financial settlement??
Thank you for your follow-up, Sean. Hello again.The domestication is fairly inexpensive. For a local order it is a simple hearing by an attorney. With a foreign judgment you would have more expenses because you would need to formally translate the order and have an attorney argue that the order does not violate local law. Typically you are looking, probably at no more than about $4,000 per domestication and I am only estimating it that high because of the foreign judgment factor. Some courts are more willing to domesticate, others need to be convinced.As for your other options,one that comes to mind is a suit for 'tortious interference with a business interest' or an intentional attempt to harm your business beyond competitive means by interfering with your relationships with third parties. Each state has a different variation of this cause of action, so it would likely be a good idea to speak with a business law/civil litigation attorney that practices in multiple jurisdictions to find out which locale would be most favorable to you.
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