Lawyers who represent Real Housewives of New Jersey stars Chris and Jacqueline Laurita in their bankruptcy case are claiming the couple owes them more than $290,000 in unpaid legal fees. They are now asking a judge to be removed from a part of the proceedings, according to NJ.com.
This case is extremely complicated. Chris Laurita’s clothing firm Signature Apparel, filed for bankruptcy in 2009. In 2010, Anthony Labrosciano, the person designated by the court to settle the company’s affairs, filed a lawsuit against the Lauritas, as well as Chris’ brother and sister-in-law Joseph and Adeline Laurita, and another brother Anthony Laurita for using Signature Apparel bank accounts to furnish their own high-flying lifestyles, including private jets, lavish vacations and expensive cars.
Joseph and Adeline Laurita settled their portion of the case in 2014 for $1 million, but Chris and Jacqueline as well as Anthony Laurita remain in litigation over the matter.
The Laurita’s Franklin Lakes home went into foreclosure in 2015, but the couple were able to make their loan current. The couple still face two tax liens filed in 2013: $338,337 from the state and $85,127 from the federal government.
The Hasbrouck Heights law firm of Seidman & Pincus had been representing the couple since 2014, when the couple’s previous lawyer withdrew from the case. In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York late last year, the law firm says it has been “completely unsuccessful” in its collection efforts and that continuing to represent the Lauritas without payment would cause a serious strain on the small firm, which has, according to its motion to withdraw, only “three or four” full-time lawyers.
What makes this case particularly convoluted is that there have been about two dozen offshoot proceedings of the main bankruptcy case. The firm asked to be relieved from representing the Lauritas against Labrosciano’s charges that they drained Signature Apparel’s bank accounts.
The lawyers say they will continue to represent the Lauritas in another complex but largely completed proceeding in which a subsidiary of the major brand management company Iconix Brand is accused of helping the Lauritas divert some of Signature Apparel’s assets. That has already gone to trial and is awaiting a ruling from the judge.
The Lauritas have denied any wrongdoing in the bankruptcy proceedings. Mitchell Seidman, who filed the paperwork asking to be removed from the Laurita proceeding, did not return phone calls for comment, and Chris Laurita has not responded to an email for comment. A judge is set to hear the motion for withdrawal in a phone conference call today.
In an interesting wrinkle in today’s motion, Labrosciano’s attorneys weighed in, saying the company does not object to Seidman’s request but accused the Lauritas of pleading poverty as a stall tactic to “delay, disadvantage or thwart their creditors.”
Labrosciano’s lawyers cite “publicly available information, including in social media posts in which the Lauritas boast about remodeling their home and undergoing plastic surgery, and in television programs in which the Lauritas claim to be operating a profitable business.”
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