A judgement that was intended to establish whether the Intestate Estate of the late President Samuel K. Doe (defendant) should be compelled to pay one of its lawyers, Counselor Milton Taylor (plaintiff), who is seeking a legal fee in the amount of US$6,758,772.31 could not take place as was scheduled by the Debt Court,in Monrovia.
The abrupt cancellation of the Friday, July 16 proceeding was due to Judge James E. Jones' illness, according to a court staffer, though there is no specific date set for when Jones would hand down the judgment.
The late President’s Estate is being managed by the widow of the deceased, Mrs. Nancy B. Doe, who currently serves as its administrator.
In Taylor's 19-count Action of Debt Lawsuit, the plaintiff sought US$250,000 as legal fees for the case G. Alvin Jones vs. the Intestate Estate of Samuel K Doe, which is still pending on appeal before the Supreme Court, as well as US$50,000 as legal fees in the case the Intestate Estate of Samuel K Doe vs. Cllr Varney Sherman,” Taylor's suit claimed. “The 35 percent commission equivalent to the amount of US$6,345,772.31 is my share from the ECOWAS Court, in Abuja, Nigeria, judgment rendered in favor of Mrs. Doe against the Government of Liberia, and awarded the defendant US$18,130,778.09.”
Other monies demanded by Cllr. Taylor, according to the lawsuit, included the US$10,000 that one of Taylor's clients, Dr. Gabriel M. Pearl, based on Taylor's influence, extended to Mrs. Doe as a loan to support the case, as well as Taylor's personal US$3,000 loan to speed up the estate case.
Taylor is also requesting for US$100,000 as miscellaneous and other expenses he incurred, while processing the cases making the amount to the US$6,758,772.31.
Surprisingly in 2011, Taylor claims, the plaintiff, without a written contract, but only verbal, handled several cases for the estate, all because of trust, confidence and the status of the defendant especially she being a former first lady of Liberia.
In a Swift response, the defense lawyer, Counselor Jonathan T. Massaquoi, asked the court to dismiss Taylor's complaint on ground that it is prematurely filed, because the defendant has not collected any money from those cases, while some cases were still pending before the Supreme Court.
In the dismissal request, Cllr. Massaquoi wondered as to how his colleague, Cllr. Taylor, derived and accrued the amount of US$250,000 without any evidence to justify said compensation.
Massaquoi questioned Taylor’s credibility as to how Taylor arrived at the US$250,000, although Taylor had admitted that there is no written contract between himself and Mrs. Doe, instead, only verbal discussion.
“Is there any evidence of such astronomical payment for a counsellor in an ejectment case, and if so, what is it?” Massaquoi asked Taylor.
With these false allegations, Massaquoi contended that Taylor has shamelessly insinuated or asserted that he (Taylor) executed no retainer agreement with Mrs Doe, “but, he is yet demanding such astronomical amount from the defendant for doing little to repossess the intestate Estate of the Samuel K Doe).
Cllr. Massaquoi argued that Taylor prepared and executed what he described as a “contingency agreement”, which has not reaped or matured.
“The terms of payment are unambiguous and undisputed, in that, Taylor shall receive his 35 percent of the judgment amount upon satisfactory recovery of the said judgment amount of US$18,130,778.09 as required by law.” Cllr Massaquoi did not resist Taylor's claim of 35 percent legal fees in the amount of US$6,345,772.31, only if the government is interested to pay associated with his complaint.
However, Cllr. Taylor's lawsuit contended that he has identified known properties and interests of the defendant, specifically, the entire 87% interest the defendant has in the Vamoma Corporation and with the building on 24th Street, Sinkor (the Vermoma building), whose value shall be determined.
There is also the current building in which the defendant and her 13 children are now residing, situated on about one lot, and another building adjacent thereto, which is being leased to a Lebanese national, Salim M. Halabi, also situated on the Old GSA Road Compound, on Tubman Boulevard, in Monrovia.
“These are the immediate properties which should be the subject of execution if the entire amount of US$6,758,772.31 is not satisfied.”
Alternatively, Taylor argued that upon the defendant’s failure to raise the amount in the complaint, Mrs. Doe should be made to proffer a valid property bond and file it with the court or that she proffer a payment plan under affidavit, promising to pay in favor of the plaintiff, not exceeding a year as to how she and her estate are to satisfy the judgment.
“That, while the proceeding is ongoing, the proceeds of the lease from the Lebanese national, Halabi, be attached and deposited into an Escrow account established by the court at any recognized banking institution with the aim of satisfying part of the payment of the judgment should it be concluded,” Taylor’s lawsuit said, seeking the court’s approval to move to possess the rent from the property leased to the labenese national.
Prior to Taylor filing the suit, he recollected that in 2011, the defendant pleaded with the plaintiff to assist in redeeming properties and other rights of her late husband's estate.
Taylor claimed that the defendant explained to him that the plaintiff was not just to defend her individual right as the widow of her deceased husband that has been violated by successive governments, but that properties under the estate have also been encroached upon by persons in high places in the society.
Taylor further argued that the defendant was truthful to have informed of the inability of her and her estate to raise the money for legal fees, and she would like for the plaintiff to assist undertake the legal arrangements on a percentage basis and, for other cases, the parties would have a discussion as to the fees.
According to Taylor, since the defendant, her children and the estate by then were in the middle of multiple lawsuits, like the “Action of Ejectment” with Cllr. Archibald F. Bernard for the land adjacent to the Varmoma Property which comprised 1.52 lots, he, Taylor, was forced to take up the case, even in the absence of a written contract between the defendant and the plaintiff.