$1.5 million battle: Emeka Ugwuonye appeals US court judgement

Posted by News Express | 26 May 2013 | 5,461 times

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A Nigerian international lawyer practising in the United States of America and Nigeria has moved to vacate a recent judgement against his defunct company by the US District Court for Columbia.

News Express learnt that Emeka Ugwuonye, Esquire, President of ECULAW Group, lodged the appeal on Thursday, seeking to convince the judge to vacate the April 23 default judgement against his defunct company ECU Associates in the $1.5 million fee dispute between him and the Nigerian Embassy in the US, which has dragged for years.

Contacted on phone by News Express, Ugwuonye confirmed lodging the appeal, saying he was confident of getting it vacated. He also disclosed that he would soon appeal the latest default judgement on the matter by a Washington D.C. court. Ugwuonye stressed that there is nothing to worry about as a default judgement is not evidence of guilt.

Meanwhile, Ugwuonye in a statement entitled “The Suppressed Truth About the Case Between the Embassy of Nigeria and Emeka Ugwuonye in Washington” threw more light on the cases and the meaning of a default judgement, attaching the court docket to buttress his point. His words:

As the docket entries below, which I am just getting to see after the much hullabaloo in Nigerian online lynch reports, shows, what has happened in the case has been deliberately mischaracterized and distorted by my enemies with personal axes to grind. This is a civil lawsuit over a fee dispute between a lawyer and his clients. The imputation of crime through the use of words like, “Stealing”, “Stole”, “Thief”, “Fraud” and the rest are absolutely not what the court has said. Indeed, such are attempts by some desperate Nigerians to lie against the Court and input to the Court a judgment it never gave.

Obviously, such has served the interest of a desperate Ambassador, who has been all out to cover up the embezzlement of over 25 million dollars he perpetrated while in Washington. It is unfortunate however that most Nigerians might not have been able to see the massive cover-up, which is what this noise about Emeka Ugwuonye has been.

Anyone, who cares for the truth, by merely looking at the docket entries below, would see that the court only entered what is called “Clerk’s Entry of Default”. For the meaning of “default judgment” see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_judgment.

“Default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of either party based on some failure to take action by the other party. Most often, it is a judgment in favor of a plaintiff when the defendant has not responded to a summons or has failed to appear before a court of law. The failure to take action is the default. The default judgment is the relief requested in the party's original petition, which is why initial pleadings are often so exaggerated.

“Default can be compared to a forfeit victory in sports. In a civil trial involving damages, a default judgment will enter the amount of damages pleaded in the original complaint. If proof of damages is required, the court may schedule another hearing on that issue. A party can have a default judgment vacated, or set aside, by filing a motion, after the judgment is entered, by showing of a proper excuse.”

See also:  http://definitions.uslegal.com/e/entry-of-default/ (Note particularly the definition of Ckerk’s entry of default).

“In law, “default” refers to the failure of a party to do something that the law required him to do. A default occurs when a person who is required to be present before the court of law for some proceedings before it, fails to appear in court.

“Entry of default refers to the process where the person making a claim in a case makes a request before a court of law stating that the party against whom they have made a claim have failed to furnish any meaningful response to the claimant’s pleadings within the time allowed for that. The court may immediately enter a judgment on the claim or may direct the claimant to file a notice of intent to take the default judgment and serve it on the unresponsive party. If the other party does not oppose the notice of intent or does not provide adequate justification for his delay or lack of response in the matter before the court, the court grants a default judgment favoring the claimant/ plaintiff. Entry of Default in the US District Courts is governed by Rule 55 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.”

Docket Entry in: Embassy of Nigeria v. Emeka Ugwuonye, et al: Case No.: 10-cv-01929.



Clerk's ENTRY OF DEFAULT as to ECU ASSOCIATES, P.C. (znmw, ) (Entered: 04/24/2013)



RESPONSE re 123 MOTION to Compel Discovery Responses from Defendant Bruce E. Fein filed by BRUCE E. FEIN. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit 2, # 3 Exhibit 3, # 4 Exhibit 4)(Cohen, Harvey) (Entered: 04/24/2013)



MINUTE ORDER: Following today's teleconference, Plaintiff, the Embassy of Nigeria, and Defendant Bruce E. Fein are instructed to continue discovery negotiations. The parties should contact the Court jointly prior to May 17, 2013, to inform the Court as to whether they have resolved their differences with regard to discovery. If they have not, they should contact the Court to schedule an additional discovery teleconference to take place on May 17, 2013. Furthermore, Plaintiff's 123 Motion to Compel Discovery Responses from Defendant Bruce E. Fein is hereby STRICKEN. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 4/25/2013. (lcbjr1, ) (Entered: 04/25/2013)



Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein: Telephone Conference held on 4/25/2013. (Court Reporter: Patricia Kaneshiro-Miller); (cdw) Modified on 4/30/2013 to reflect the correct judge (cdw). (Entered: 04/25/2013)



NOTICE of Issuance of Non-Party Subpoena by EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (Guiffre, Thomas) (Entered: 04/26/2013)



MOTION for Default Judgment as to ECU Associates, P.C. by EMBASSY OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Text of Proposed Order, # 3 Certificate of Service)(Guiffre, Thomas) (Entered: 05/07/2013)



ORDER resolving Plaintiff's 92 Bill of Costs re: 91 Order on Motion to Compel and for Sanctions. Plaintiff is entitled to $1,286.25 in attorneys' fees for preparation of its 79 Motion to Compel. See attached Order for details. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/14/2013. (lcbjr1) (Entered: 05/14/2013)



ORDER granting 117 Motion for Order to Show Cause and for Sanctions. The Clerk of Court shall enter a default against Mr. Ugwuonye as to the Embassy's claims. Mr. Ugwuonye's Counterclaim and Cross-Claims are DISMISSED. The Embassy shall file its motion for default judgment no later than May 28, 2013. The Embassy shall submit its Bill of Costs for expenses and attorneys' fees related to Mr. Ugwuonye's failure to comply with discovery by May 28, 2013. A hearing on damages is scheduled for June 10, 2013 at 10:00 A.M. in Courtroom 12 of the Prettyman Courthouse. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/20/2013. (lcbjr1) (Entered: 05/20/2013)



MEMORANDUM OPINION on 131 Order. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/20/2013. (lcbjr1) (Entered: 05/20/2013)



Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Bill of Cost due by 5/28/2013; motion for default judgment due by 5/28/2013; Damage Hearing set for 6/10/2013, at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 12 before Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein. (tth) (Entered: 05/20/2013)



Set/Reset Hearings: Discovery Telephone Conference set for 6/13/2013, at 10:30 AM in Chambers before Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein. (tth) (Entered: 05/20/2013)



Clerk's ENTRY OF DEFAULT as to EPHRAIM EMEKA UGWUONYE (znmw, ) (Entered: 05/21/2013)



ORDER granting in part and denying in part 129 Motion for Default Judgment. The Embassy's motion for default judgment against ECU Associates, P.C. is GRANTED as to compensatory damages, prejudgment interest, and post-judgment interest; the Embassy's motion is DENIED as to punitive damages; the Embassy shall file its motion for attorneys' fees and expenses related to the Judgment against ECU Associates, P.C. no later than June 5, 2013. See attached Order and Judgment for damages calculations. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/22/2013. (lcbjr1) (Entered: 05/22/2013)



MEMORANDUM OPINION on 134 Order. Signed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/22/2013. (lcbjr1) (Entered: 05/22/2013)



JUDGMENT IN A CIVIL ACTION, as directed by Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein on 5/22/13.(tth) (Entered: 05/23/2013)



Set/Reset Deadlines: motion for attorneys' due by 6/5/2013. (tth) (Entered: 05/23/2013)



NOTICE OF APPEAL TO DC CIRCUIT COURT by ECU ASSOCIATES, P.C.. Fee Status: No Fee Paid. Parties have been notified. (Ugwuonye, Ephraim) (Entered: 05/23/2013)

It should be clear to all discerning minds that the case between me and the Embassy of Nigeria is nowhere near being over. It is a pity that many Nigerians could be easily deceived. The true tragedy however is that Nigerian Ambassador to Washington is so daft that he and his agents could try to pull such wool over the eyes of their people.

As you can see, there has been steps to vacate the default judgment or appeal it. I do have a good explanation for not responding to discovery, even if that allegation were true. That explanation is that I have been bogged down in Nigeria as I have been defending cases filed by the same Nigerian Government in Nigerian courts on the same set of events. There is no way I could be here in Nigeria and there in Washington at the same time. I think that the judge simply found the entire case overwhelming and is doing her best to maintain control over this docket. But I am not in the least intimidated by these developments. In America judges are not God and this judge is not God at all. She would follow the rules of the court and the law and is bound to do justice. And she will do justice eventually. I am ultimately confident on the soundness of the American justice. I will do the needful and those who are getting unduly excited about these default judgments are either simply too naive or too mischievous to face the truth of the matter.

•Photo shows Ugwuonye.

Source: News Express

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