Justia International Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Supreme Court of New Jersey
Plaintiff Peter Innes and his wife, Maria Jose Carrascosa, were involved in a contentious divorce and custody battle over their daughter Victoria. Innes was a citizen of the United States; Carrascosa was a Spanish national and a permanent resident of New Jersey. Victoria was a dual citizen of the United States and Spain. During the course of their domestic relations litigation, the parties entered into an agreement whereby Carrascosa's attorneys would hold Victoria's United States and Spanish passports in trust to restrict travel outside of the United States with Victoria without written permission of the other party (the Agreement). Carrascosa discharged her first attorney and retained defendants Madeline Marzano-Lesnevich, Esq., and Lesnevich & Marzano Lesnevich, Attorneys at Law. Defendant Marzano-Lesnevich received Carrascosa's file, including the Agreement and Victoria's United States passport. In December 2004, Carrascosa obtained Victoria's United States passport from defendants, and used the passport to remove Victoria from the United States to Spain. Innes filed a petition under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction for Victoria's return to the United States and traveled to Spain for a hearing on the petition. The Spanish court denied the petition and ordered Victoria to remain in Spain until age eighteen. Meanwhile, the parties' domestic relations litigation continued in New Jersey. The Family Part judge entered a judgment of divorce and granted Innes sole legal and residential custody of Victoria. The judgment gave Carrascosa ten days to bring Victoria back to the United States, but Carrascosa failed to comply with the order. Innes filed a complaint in the Law Division against defendants alleging, in part, that they improperly released Victoria's passport and intentionally interfered with the Agreement. Innes requested relief, including damages and attorneys' fees. The New Jersey Supreme Court granted defendants petition for certification, limited to the issue of whether the attorney-defendants could be liable for attorneys' fees as consequential damages to a non-client, and found that yes, defendant attorneys could be held liable for counsel fees if, as trustees and escrow agents for both Innes and Carrascosa, they intentionally breached their fiduciary obligation to Innes by releasing Victoria's United States passport to Carrascosa without Innes' permission. View "Innes v. Marzano-Lesnevich" on Justia Law