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Davidson lawyer hit with $800K malpractice verdict

A Davidson lawyer accused of legal malpractice for bungling his representation of a company that sells Christmas ornaments has come out on the wrong side of a nearly $800,000 verdict in federal court.

Christopher G. Chagaris had been hired in 2002 by K.A. Holdings Ltd. of New York to help it confirm an arbitration award against Overland Properties after the two firms became involved in a dispute over a warehouse in Mecklenburg County.

K.A. had bought the warehouse because it was filled with Christmas ornaments that it wanted to sell. It then sold the warehouse to Overland, which later complained about the ornaments taking up too much space inside the building, according to an attorney for K.A., David G. Redding of Tison Redding in Charlotte.

Overland asked K.A. to consolidate the ornaments and when the company refused Overland locked it out of the building. This happened during the holidays, which prevented K.A. from shipping its ornaments during the peak of the market, Redding said.

K.A. won at arbitration against Overland, but the award was vacated in Mecklenburg County Superior Court. Chagaris, who was representing K.A. at that point, allegedly failed to tell his client about the court’s decision.

Instead, he only told K.A. that the court had not confirmed the award, K.A.’s complaint states. The company alleged that Chagaris went on to botch the appeals process, withhold documents, and fail to tell it about court hearings, motions, depositions and many other significant developments in the case as it unfolded between 2002 and 2007.

“He made several errors that started with him not telling his client [K.A.] when the first trial was set,” Redding said. “Although the underlying facts were complex, I thought the jury understood what Mr. Chagaris failed to do was some pretty basic stuff, and he didn’t really have any excuse for it.”

Chagaris did not respond to an interview request. His attorney, Rodney Dean of Dean & Gibson in Charlotte, said they were considering appealing the verdict. He believed the case may have been too complicated for the jury to understand.

Dean had contended that Chagaris did not commit legal malpractice and that even if his services had been subpar, K.A. still had no chance of winning the underlying case against Overland. Of course, K.A. had told jurors that it would have prevailed if not for Chagaris’ missteps.

In June, a jury at U.S. District Court in Charlotte found that Chagaris had breached his legal duties to K.A. and awarded the company $793,568 in damages. The court on Sept. 30 denied Chagaris’ motion to reverse the verdict and entered judgment.

Follow Phillip Bantz on Twitter @NCLWBantz

 

VERDICT REPORT: LEGAL MALPRACTICE

Case name:  K.A. Holdings Ltd. Of New York v. Christopher Chagaris

Case number: 3:09-cv-00487

Court: U.S. District Court, Charlotte

Date of verdict: June 12, judgment entered Sept. 30

Amount: $793,568

Attorney for plaintiff: David G. Redding (Charlotte)

Attorney for defendant: Rodney Dean (Charlotte)


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