Ex Goes After L.A. Attorney Neil Papiano

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A woman claims in court that her boyfriend Neil Papiano, a well-known L.A. attorney, routinely abused her, leaving her “utterly subservient and dependent upon him,” and then dumped her.
     Katherine Parnello sued Neil Papiano and his law firm, Iverson, Yoakum, Papiano and Hatch, in Superior Court.
     She claims Papiano has systematically abused her, often in public, since September 2011.
     The complaint states: “In September of 2011, Katherine was waiting for Neil to meet her for dinner at Mimi’s Café in Monrovia [a San Gabriel Valley suburb]. Neil was late, and after about an hour of waiting for him, Katherine left the café. As Katherine was walking to her car in the parking lot, Neil pulled up next to her and said, ‘Get in.’ As soon as Katherine sat down in the car Neil began to pull her hair and beat Katherine with his left closed fist in the temple and back of the head.
     “On December 26, 2011, in the dining area of the Santa Anita racetrack, Neil grabbed Katherine’s clutch bag and threw it on the ground where he crushed it with his foot to keep Katherine from getting it. As Katherine went under the table to retrieve her purse and its contents, Neil kicked her in the face, keeping her from retrieving her things. He would not even let Katherine go to the ladies’ room when she asked, as Katherine wanted to go wash the welt on her face, but Neil told her she could not leave. Neil ranted at Katherine and accused her of having sex with various jockeys.”
     Two weeks later, Parnello claims, the 77-year old Papiano assaulted her again, again at a restaurant in Monrovia.
     “On January 8, 2012, at the Peach Café in Monrovia, Neil grabbed Katherine’s ponytail, pulling her into the outdoor patio area and throwing her on the ground. While holding Katherine by the hair, he punched her in the left eye. Neil forcefully pulled Katherine up by the arm and dragged her to their closely parked cards [sic]. Neil began choking Katherine with his hands, screaming in her face,” the complaint states.
     Parnello says Papiano abused her again in February: “On or about February 1, 2012, while Katherine and Neil were at the Palm Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, as Katherine stood up from the booth they were sitting in Neil shoved the table against Katherine’s chest and ribs, pinning her. Neil kicked Katherine’s shins under the table. As Katherine cried and laid her head on the table in great pain, Neil said that he would release Katherine if she promised not to walk out.”
     So it went, Parnello says in the 16-page complaint: “In March 2012, at the Derby restaurant in Arcadia, Neil grabbed Katherine’s hair and pulled her head down, causing Katherine’s face to hit a corner of the table.
     “On or about July 19, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, Neil made a threatening gesture directly at Katherine, motioning as though he was slicing a throat.”
     Parnello claims she suffered Papiano’s abuse at his law office as well: “In January, 2011, at Neil’s office located at 633 West Fifth Street, 64th Floor, Los Angeles, Neil grabbed Katherine by the shoulders, pulled her up and pushed her into the wall. Katherine begged Neil to let her go, but he screamed in her face ‘You are not leaving here.’ Neil pinned Katherine against the wall while she was crying and pleading that he let her go. Desperate, scared, and in pain from being pinned against the wall, Katherine gave in when Neil made her promise that she would not leave him. Neil then let Katherine go, but when she picked up her purse he tore it from her hands, threw it, and grabbed her keys. Still crying, Katherine dropped to her knees to try to pick up the contents of her purse. As Katherine tried to reach for an object that had spilled from her purse, Neil kicked it out of reach. Neil stood over Katherine, kicking items from her while she was crying and crawling around. Suddenly, and without warning, Neil walked a few feet away to a heavy crystal statue of a horse, held it up over his head, and slammed it down over a trash can, but not breaking it. Neil then said, ‘If this ever hit anyone it would kill them.'”
     Parnello claims that for weeks after that incident, Papiano became abusive anytime they had a disagreement.
     “Neil’s pounding left black and blue marks, which he brushed off by saying, ‘You bruise easily,'” according to the complaint. “When Katherine disagreed with Neil about anything, he pulled her hair with his right hand until her head was in a submissive position and squeezed both of her cheeks with his left hand. Neil repeatedly accused Katherine of cheating on him and his unfounded accusations were frequently peppered with calling Katherine ‘cunt’ or telling her that she was a ‘f*cking fat [ass],’ and telling her that “no one will ever love you.'” (Brackets and spelling as in complaint.)
     Parnello says Papiano badgered her about her weight, then paid for her to have a tummy tuck.
     “After the procedure, Katherine was lying in bed at Neil’s San Marino home during part of her recovery,” the complaint states. “Katherine and Neil had an argument, and Neil started pounding with his closed fists on the incision on Katherine’s stomach until she screamed in pain and had trouble breathing. When Katherine begged him to stop, his response was ‘I paid for it.'”
     Parnello claims that Papiano attempted to control her financially as early as 2007, when “Katherine and Neil developed their dating relationship and Neil represented her as her attorney,” according to the complaint.
     The complaint states: “Neil told Katherine that ‘no girlfriend of his was going to work,’ and instructed her to discontinue her employment. Neil told Katherine that from that point forward, he would always take care of her, that he did not want her to worry about money and that she should enjoy developing and growing a new company designing women’s lingerie (as long as Katherine was available to Neil’s requests for her time), assisting him in his law practice and the law firm, and managing that part of their social life in which they participated together. Katherine agreed. Neil confided in Katherine confidential information relating to his clients and cases and frequently asked for her assistance both at home and in the office with review of files. [Parentheses in complaint.]
     “As Katherine’s and Neil’s relationship continued to develop, Neil began imposing more demands on Katherine’s time and efforts, which Katherine provided. In or about the early part of 2007, Neil and Katherine entered into the following express, oral agreement: (a) Katherine would not work for any third-party employer, but would develop the lingerie company she started, would assist Neil in his law practice and the law firm, and would dedicate her time and energy to being available for Neil at times Neil demanded; (b) Katherine would accompany Neil as Neil would request; (c) Neil would thereafter take care of Katherine, provide her with financial security, pay Katherine’s living expenses, and ensure that she did not have to worry about money.”
     Parnello says she lived up to her end of the bargain, as did Papiano, who bought a home for them as joint tenants, and gave her $250,000. But in February this year, the same month the purchase of the home became final, Papiano breached the agreement when he stopped paying for her living expenses, Parnello says.
     She claims that though Papiano claimed their relationship was exclusive – and that her agreement to his terms was based on that claim – she learned that “Neil had maintained other multiple intimate relationships during the time he had promised to Katherine the commitment of exclusivity. Katherine also learned that in the face of her reasonably and appropriately seeking to prevent any further abuse from domestic violence, Neil was not going to keep his promises to Katherine to provide for her financial needs and security.”
     Parnello also accuses Iverson, Yoakum, Papiano and Hatch of breaching its attorney-client duties to her.
     According to a U.S. Patent and Trademark Office listing , Papiano represented Parnello when she trademarked her lingerie company, Gimme More Couture, in 2009.
     But Parnello says in her complaint: “Despite having voluntarily accepted the trust and confidence of Katherine in regard to her various legal, business, and personal matters, Neil abused the trust and confidence of Katherine by having an intimate sexual relationship with her. The law firm also abused the trust and confidence of Katherine by permitting Neil and standing idly by as he maintained an intimate sexual relationship with her. By virtue of Neil’s superior position in his relationship with Katherine as her boyfriend and attorney, in which he guided her in various legal matters concerning her home and business, and paid her living expenses, Katherine was utterly dependent upon Neil. Neil exerted unique influence over the dependent Katherine, who endured his repeated acts of domestic violence against her because of her financial, legal and emotional dependency on him. In fostering Katherine’s dependency through his inappropriate intimate sexual relationship with her, and committing various acts of domestic violence against her, Neil abused Katherine’s trust and confidence and violated his fiduciary duty to her. In permitting Neil to maintain this inappropriate sexual relationship with Katherine, in which she became totally dependent on Neil and endured repeated acts of physical violence as a direct result of that relationship and dependency, the law firm and Doe defendants also violated its/their fiduciary duty to Katherine.”
     Parnello also claims that Iverson, Yoakum, Papiano and Hatch “knew or should have known that there existed a reasonably foreseeable risk that Neil’s said personal and intimate relationship with Katherine, a client of the law firm, would lead to disagreements, arguments, altercations and emotional trauma and distress for Katherine, and further that Neil’s lack of control of his temper, his own emotions and his having, during said time period, been involved in juggling at least three relationships with three different women unbeknownst to Katherine, would result in severe emotional distress for Katherine.”
     Parnello seeks damages from Papiano for assault and battery, domestic violence, breach of contract, fraud and deceit, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She seeks damages from Papiano and the law firm for breach of fiduciary duty and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
     She is represented by Stephen Kolodny, with Kolodny & Anteau, of Beverly Hills.

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