Bahamian lawyers sue Peter Nygard for millions, seek injunction on sale of Nygard Cay property

Three Bahamian lawyers who represent Peter Nygard are suing the fashion mogul for more than $14 million in unpaid legal fees, lawsuits allege.

Carlton A. Martin, Keod Smith and Algernon Allen say they were hired by Nygard in August 2018 to work together to defend him and prosecute on his behalf, according to court documents filed separately by the three lawyers in March and April of 2021.

The court filings say Nygard agreed to pay Martin and Allen $1,000 an hour, while Smith was to be paid $750 an hour. The lawyers claims to have worked thousands of hours but were only paid five per cent of what they are owed. Based on the numbers provided in the lawsuits, they are owed a little more than $14 million combined.

“The plaintiff fears that the defendant would never pay his fees if this Honourable Court does not intervene to protect him against this possibility,” said Smith’s March 31 affidavit.

The lawyers want the Bahamian courts to issue an injunction to prevent Nygard from liquidating his assets and taking his money out of the country before they are paid.

“Selling off the remaining real estate of the defendant in The Bahamas is intentionally without regard to the indebtedness of the defendant to the plaintiff under the retainer, is reckless, uncaring and fraudulent,” said Martin’s March 29 statement of claim.

The court filings say Nygard is in the process of selling his home on Nygard Cay for about $59 million, and that he had found a buyer but the sale fell through.

“The purpose of the sale of Nygard Cay … is … to put the defendant in a financial position to be able to pay the fees of his legal teams in Canada and the US in respect to extradition proceedings in Canada and the prosecution of his racketeering proceedings in the US,” the court filings say.

Nygard, 79, remains at Headingley Correctional Centre, west of Winnipeg, awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. in connection with allegations of sex trafficking and racketeering conspiracy. He was arrested in Winnipeg in December 2020 but does not currently face criminal charges in Canada.

Keod Smith is one of three Bahamian lawyers who filed lawsuits in the Bahamas against their client Peter Nygard claiming they have not been paid millions in outstanding legal fees. (Keod Smith/LinkedIn)

Nygard’s Bahamian lawyers claim the fashion mogul owns a second property in the Bahamas worth $25 million. Nygard’s name doesn’t appear on the land title but he is the beneficial owner, according to the court documents.

Martin’s statement of claim says Nygard used to own a third property known as Silver Point but sold it around 2019.

“Such sale being consistent with his active intention of selling off all his real estate holdings in The Bahamas and leaving his legal team members without real estate to which their judgments would attach should they obtain judgments against the defendant for their fees,” said Martin’s statement of claim.

Martin says he continues to provide services to Nygard under retainer “in spite of the failures of the defendant to pay fees pursuant to the retainer”.

The lawyers say Nygard has assured them their money is secure and they will be paid, but so far he has not followed through on his promises. 

Peter Nygard says he lived at in The Bahamas at Nygard Cay for 40 years. He returned to Canada in 2019 before he was scheduled to appear in court over allegations of illegal dredging and development activities at Nygard’s waterfront home. (CBC)

“Over the years, although PJN [Nygard] had paid some of the fees due, the payments were infrequent, and the sums paid were unilaterally decided on by PJN,” Smith wrote.

He said the last payment he received from Nygard was in December 2019.

“In 2020, PJN failed to pay any of his bills although he continued to instruct Keod and expected Keod and others of the legal team to follow on with what they were instructed to do for PJN (hereinafter called “the defendant”) to achieve his goal”.

The court filings say the lawyers still represent Nygard in a number of matters before the courts, including a number of appeals.

“A reasonable estimation for services remained to be rendered and damages for breach of agreement the defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the approximate amount of $4,300,000.00 less payment of a total sum of about ten thousand dollars ($10,000.000) paid to the plaintiff,” the court filings say. 

Nygard hasn’t filed a statement of defence.