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Maryland

Attorney appointed to represent Peter Angelos denies having conflicts of interest

The attorney appointed to represent Orioles owner Peter Angelos in his family’s fight over his fortune has rejected a move to disqualify him from the case, calling allegations that he has conflicts of interest “absurd” and a “distraction.”

Angelos, 93, has been incapacitated by illness for several years, and his younger son Louis sued his mother, Georgia, and brother, John, the chairman and CEO of the Orioles, in June over control of the team, the family patriarch’s renowned law firm and other assets. Georgia Angelos subsequently sued Louis Angelos, likening his transfer of the law firm from his father to himself to elder abuse.

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Georgia Angelos has been trying to dissolve or sell the decades-old firm, while Louis Angelos, who has been managing the practice since his father fell ill, has fought to keep it in operation.

In a court filing Friday, Benjamin Rosenberg said the attempt to disqualify him is part of Louis Angelos’ “increasingly desperate effort” to conceal the finances of the law firm, which is currently much smaller than at its peak when it won billions of dollars in awards and settlements for victims of asbestos and tobacco.

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Rosenberg, who was appointed by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Keith R. Truffer in October to represent Peter Angelos, said in court documents that he needs information about the firm’s finances and cases to develop an informed opinion on the dispute over its future.

But Louis Angelos has long refused to share that information, as far back as 2019 with his mother and her advisers as they sought to shut down the firm, and now with Rosenberg, he said in the most recent filing.

Louis Angelos’ attorney, Jeffrey E. Nusinov, is seeking to disqualify Rosenberg from the case, saying he has a personal “animus” against the Angelos law firm because it once sued one of his law partners, a close friend. Additionally, Nusinov argued, the firm Rosenberg founded, Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, had represented a company, Bestwall, that accused the Angelos firm of failing to fully disclose evidence in its asbestos-related bankruptcy case.

That should disqualify Rosenberg from now being allowed to “rummage around” in the Angelos firm’s records, Nusinov wrote in a motion to remove Rosenberg from the current case.

“[Peter] Angelos is entitled to have a lawyer who is 100 percent committed to preserving the law firm’s privileged, confidential and proprietary information,” Nusinov wrote. “Mr. Rosenberg’s firm represents another client that is every bit as much committed to piercing that veil. The risk that information will be compromised is unacceptably high.”

Rosenberg countered in his filing that he was not involved in the Bestwall case, which was largely handled by a partner who has since left the firm. Rosenberg Martin had a limited role in Bestwall’s bankruptcy case — it was retained by a Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm to act as local counsel — and that ended on Aug. 25, he wrote.

Rosenberg also dismissed Nusinov’s claim that he bears animosity toward the Angelos firm and its general counsel, Jay Miller, for representing banker and Baltimore Blast owner Ed Hale in a suit against Rosenberg’s partner and friend, Stanley S. Fine. Nusinov said in a Nov. 21 letter to Truffer that Rosenberg “became so enraged” talking about that suit “that he shouted expletives that I cannot repeat here.”

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In his filing, Rosenberg said he told Nusinov during “a friendly, candid conversation” on Oct. 31 that “he had no use for Miller” because of how he conducted himself during the Hale litigation. Rosenberg also said Nusinov repeatedly accused him during a nearly hourlong phone conversation on Nov. 15 of having a conflict of interest in the current case because of his purported animosity toward Miller.

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“After the fourth such accusation, Rosenberg expressed his extreme frustration ... and ended the conversation,” Rosenberg wrote.

Rosenberg said in his filing he doesn’t know Miller and has a “negative view” of him only based on court findings in the Hale case. He said his firm has represented Peter Angelos and the law firm in multiple matters from 1998 to 2018 and during that 20-year period they “enjoyed a cordial professional relationship.”

Nusinov also has noted that Rosenberg should be disqualified because he is related to an attorney, Steven D. Silverman, who represents John Angelos in the case. Rosenberg said in his filing that because the relationship is so distant — his mother’s sister is Silverman’s grandmother — that it “poses no threat to his duty of loyalty” to Peter Angelos nor his “independent professional judgment.”

Rosenberg also questioned the timing of Nusinov’s attempt to disqualify him, more than three weeks after he was appointed to represent Peter Angelos. Rosenberg said Nusinov could have objected to his appointment in October but didn’t, and is only now raising the alleged conflicts to give his client a “tactical” advantage in the dispute over access to the Angelos firm’s finances.

Nusinov did not respond to a request for comment.

The case is scheduled for a hearing before Truffer on Dec. 13.


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