In a rare moment of candor, one of Madam Bindu Fatumata Dukuly’s attorneys, Jonathan Massaquoi, of Jones and Associates Law Firm, has admitted receiving US$700 for her appeal process, but failed to file the paperwork on time to the Supreme Court.
The money was intended for the law firm to secure Madam Dukuly an appeal bond which would have completed the process and given the High Court the jurisdiction to review the 2013 judgment of the Civil Law Court in her “Cancellation of Lease Agreement for Fraud” case.
That lawsuit was filed in early 2012 against two Indian businessmen, Upjit Singh Sachdeva, commonly known as Jetty, and Paul Raspal, general manager of Sethi Brothers.
However, the Supreme Court last month dismissed the case and upheld the ruling of the lower court after it said the lawyer failed to perfect the appeal process within 60 days as required by law.
Atty. Massaquoi, who addressed journalists recently at the Temple of Justice, stated that they lost the case at the High Court because of what he considered to be “negligence” on the part of the law firm.
“I received US$700 immediately after we rejected Judge Kaba’s ruling, but the law firm could not file the paper work on time. We are to be blamed for what happened to her,” he further admitted.
“All of us who were handling Madam Dukuly’s case were new lawyers. And we made the mistake because the senior lawyer, Cllr. Marcus Jones, who was taking care of the matter, was suspended by the Supreme Court for five years, while the case was ongoing,” said Atty. Massaquoi.
Asked whether he knew how much was paid to his law firm, Atty. Massaquoi replied, “I’m innocent of any money being paid for the case. The only thing I did receive was US$700 as her appeal bond.”
He continued, “I only heard that she paid US$16,000 to the law firm for her case. But I would admit that I did not see it and I did not eat a dime from it.”
Giving further clarity on the US$700, Atty. Jonathan alleged that he paid the money to Medicare Insurance Company for the bond.
“After paying the money, the company gave us a provisional bond, because they had not received a new bank statement,” he stated.
“Unfortunately, when I brought the bond to Cllr. Jones, he told me that if we were to present it the other lawyer would have rejected it and the money would have been a waste. So I took it back,” Atty. Massaquoi said.
Later they took back the bond and were provided with the original one, he said.
“By that time we had already missed the 60-day deadline. We had gone an additional five days (past the deadline),” he acknowledged.
After the defense lawyer, Cllr. Cooper Kurah, noticed that the sixty (60) days had expired, he then filed a motion to dismiss the case at the Supreme Court.
“It was a harmless error and it was not intentional. I must admit we did not observer the time. It was negligence on our part,” Massaquoi reiterated.
His confession comes after Madam Dukuly threatened to file a complaint against the firm to the Grievance and Ethics Committee for mishandling her case.
The case began when Madam Dukuly, in early 2012, hired the services of Jones and Associates to file a lawsuit for “Cancellation of Lease Agreement for Fraud,” between her and two Indian businessmen, Upjit Singh Sachdeva, (Jetty), and Paul Raspal, at the Civil Law Court.
Judge Yussif Kaba, in 2013, denied and ruled against their client Madam Dukuly and they announced an appeal.
Her lawyers were pushing for the court to cancel a 20-year lease agreement between Madam Dukuly, Raspal and Jeety because of alleged fraud, although she had received US$62,500, as part payment for the first five years.
The property at the center of the dispute is a storey building and a lot located in Mamba Point, Monrovia. Madam Dukuly currently resides in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.