By Jessica Dye
NEW YORK, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A Brooklyn judge has shot down
a woman's claim that she could not remember the circumstances
surrounding a disputed retainer agreement with a law firm in
part because she was raising five children.
Stacey Golia initially said her "memory was shot" when it
came to recalling events in 2007, the year she allegedly entered
into a $20,000 retainer agreement with law firm Reingold &
Kings County Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack said in a
ruling Thursday that Golia's attempts to blame her memory lapses
on raising five children were "beyond belief."
"House of Representatives Minority Leader and former Speaker
Nancy Pelosi is the mother of five children, as well as former
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, U.S. Representatives Michele
Bachmann and former First Lady Barbara Bush," Schack wrote.
"These women have never claimed memory lapses because they each
have five children."
The judge ordered Golia to pay $27,603, -- the amount of
the retainer plus fees for some additional legal work the firm
performed -- and interest.
Golia was named as a defendant in three separate mortgage
fraud lawsuits filed in Brooklyn federal court in 2006. She
signed two $20,000 retainer agreements with law firm Reingold &
Tucker to defend her in two of the cases, the ruling said.
The firm said she orally agreed to have it defend her in the
third suit, but she allegedly found "numerous excuses" for not
signing the agreement she received in 2007 and for not paying
the third $20,000 retainer, the ruling said.
The firm helped negotiate successful dispositions for Golia
in all three cases, the ruling said and, in 2008, sent her a
bill for $27,603. Golia did not pay, and the firm filed a
lawsuit in 2010 seeking the full amount, plus interest, the
During a brief bench trial before Schack, Golia initially
could not recall the details of the third case, saying she
"(has) five children," so "my memory is pretty much shot," the
When pressed by Schack, Golia said, "I have a lot of things
on my mind, so I don't remember 2007." She eventually admitted
she received a retainer agreement, but said she did not sign it
or make any payments, the ruling said. Golia also said she was
overbilled, due to the firm's "antiquated billing system."
Schack called the testimony "evasive and incredible."
"Defendant Golia cannot obtain a windfall -- free legal work
-- by her willful failure to sign a retainer agreement in the
(third) action," he wrote.
Abe Reingold, who represented his firm in the case, said he
was pleased with the ruling. A lawyer for Golia did not return a
request for comment.
The case is Reingold & Tucker v. Golia, New York State
Supreme Court, Kings County, No. 21038/2010.
For Reingold & Tucker: Abe Reingold.
For Golia: Steven Herzberg of Char & Herzberg.
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