Judge named for Silver Oak suit
May 24, 2005
A new judge has been named to handle the lawsuit between former partners in the Silver Oak Development.
The lawsuit filed 18 months ago charges that lawyer Steve Hartman and the Allison/MacKenzie law firm violated rules governing the conduct of lawyers, used deceptive trade practices and acted maliciously after the partnership was dissolved.
Longtime Carson builder Garth Richards filed the lawsuit charging Hartman manipulated the partnership to his own benefit while acting both as a business partner and Silver Oak’s lawyer. As a result, the lawsuit claims Hartman received $3.3 million when the partnership dissolved and the law firm got another $903,000.
The case was put on hold when both Carson District Judges Bill Maddox and Mike Griffin removed themselves from hearing the case.
Senior Judge Carl Christensen of Las Vegas was appointed to handle the case last June. Christensen heard arguments the case should be thrown out because the statute of limitations had expired before the case was filed.
Christensen denied the motion to dismiss in October, but then served notice he was resigning from the case and retiring from the bench.
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That put the case on hold again until April when the high court selected former district judge and Supreme Court Justice Noel Manoukian to hear the case.
Manoukian, of Gardnerville, has already advised the parties his calendar is open for a trial beginning in January.
The complaint charges Hartman and the Allison/MacKenzie law firm were guilty of conflicts of interest in both representing Silver Oak and being a partner in the project. They accused the defendants of a continuing pattern of wrongful actions which “enriched themselves at the expense of Plaintiffs.”
Hartman’s lawyers rejected that argument saying the lawsuit is clearly an attorney malpractice claim which should be barred by the statute of limitations.
n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.