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Lord & Whip’s old partners return to court

Six months after the dissolution of Lord & Whip P.A., the firm’s last four partners reconvened for a reunion probably none of them wanted to attend.

The four lawyers — John J. Boyd, Kathleen M. Bustraan, Jennifer S. Lubinski and Edward M. Ranier — were seated at the same defendants’ table in Baltimore County Circuit Court. They were there for a motions hearing over a $270,000 confessed judgment filed against them by Bank of America in April over a quarter-million-dollar line of credit Lord & Whip took out five years ago.

At issue was the bank’s opposition to motions filed by Lubinski and Bustraan to open, modify or vacate the judgment against them based on timeliness. Judge Sherrie R. Bailey ultimately continued the matter until next month; the bank and Ranier’s lawyer agreed to wait until that hearing to argue Ranier’s motion to open, modify or vacate the judgment against him.

One person who will not be at the December hearing is Boyd, who was dismissed from the lawsuit and had his judgment vacated. Boyd filed a lawsuit against Lord & Whip in February 2009, alleging he was improperly fired and locked out of his office. Boyd settled his lawsuit against Lord & Whip earlier this year.

“There’s no future indebtedness he could’ve been on the hook for,” said Shannon J. Posner, the bank’s lawyer.

Bank of America filed its confessed judgment around the time Ranier, Lord & Whip’s last partner, voted to dissolve the 104-year-old defense firm. The bank is a first-priority secured creditor of the firm, meaning it has first dibs on collecting its money.

Posner said Lubinski was served May 17 but did not file her motion to open, modify or vacate the confessed judgment until July 14, while Bustraan was served June 8 but did not respond with her motion until July 9. He argued the motions should be thrown out because no responses had been filed within the 30-day window allowed under state law.

“We’re dealing with two attorneys here,” said Posner, managing partner of an eponymous Sparks-based firm. “These are not your average pro se parties.”

Lubinski and Bustraan countered that the bank did not show it was prejudiced by the delay, which is what it needed to prove in order to succeed.

“Is this court going to keep me out of this one forum where I can protect myself — and, frankly, my family — based on a technicality? I hope not,” Lubinski said.

Lubinski also offered an explanation for her delay in filing her motion. She was “horrified and upset” when she was served at her new employer, Funk & Bolton P.A., which she joined last December. She asked a colleague, Christopher W. Poverman, to call Posner office’s to figure out what was going to happen next. According to Lubinski, Poverman was told she could “sit tight” and that no further action would be necessary if enough money was collected on accounts receivable owed to Lord & Whip.

The bank put a garnishment on Lubinski’s wages in June.

“It was only when it became apparent the bank was going to be aggressive against me that I took action,” she said.

Boyd and Ranier are both solo practitioners. Bustraan, Lord & Whip’s last managing partner, left the firm in February to form Ward & Bustraan LLC in Towson.