President of law firm sued by partner for allegedly mishandling assets

By Kyle Barnett | Jul 7, 2014

Robert A. Contreras

GRETNA – The president of a New Orleans-based personal injury law firm is being sued by the law firm and its vice-president for allegedly mishandling the law firm’s assets.

Ellen Mullins, individually and on behalf of D’Aquila, Contreras & Vega, successor in interest to D’Aquila, Mullins & Contreras and Republic Land Title Corporation, filed suit against Robert A. Contreras in the 24th Judicial District Court on May 22.

Mullins alleges that after a former shareholder in D’Aquila, Mullins & Contreras and Republic Land Title Corporation terminated his relationship with the companies on Dec. 31, 2011, Contreras used the firm’s assets to transfer the former partner’s share to himself rather than dividing them among the remaining members. The plaintiff contends that because the terminated shareholder’s interest in the business was provided to the defendant he held two-thirds of the interest rather than creating a 50/50 ownership split.

Mullins claims the final contract provided to her and other shareholders does not appear to be the same final document signed by Contreras and the terminated partner. In addition, the plaintiff alleges that the shareholders of the corporation should have taken a vote on the final agreement and that he also did not seek approval from the firm’s board of directors.

Mullins claims that Contreras, without disclosure nor her consent, issued a check to himself in the amount of $46,730 out of the Republic Land Title Corporation account without providing justification for the withdrawal and also appropriated $43,883.44 from another shareholders life insurance policy, which he then invested into computer equipment and software for his collections agency.

The plaintiff alleges that the defendant has refused to produce financial records of the companies at her request. Mullins contends Contreras's actions have diluted the value of shares held by other shareholders and caused direct financial harm to her.

The defendant is accused of breach of fiduciary duty, grossly negligent breach of fiduciary duty owed to corporations, intentional breach of fiduciary duty and unjust enrichment.

An unspecified amount in damages is sought for all losses suffered by the corporation.

Mullins is represented by Robert A. Kutcher of Metairie-based Chopin, Wagar, Richard & Kutcher LLP.

The case has been assigned to Division B Judge Cornelius E. Regan.

Case no.738-756.  

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