June 18, 2007 – Commercial litigation attorneys from Levy Konigsberg LLP, a New York & New Jersey-based business litigation law firm, win $5 Million in punitive damages and $2 Million in compensatory damages against a law firm for breach of fiduciary duty by a partner.
COMMERCIAL LITIGATION ATTORNEYS FROM LEVY KONIGSBERG LLP, A NEW YORK & NEW JERSEY-BASED BUSINESS LITIGATION LAW FIRM, WIN $5 MILLION IN PUNITIVE DAMAGES AND $2 MILLION IN COMPENSATORY DAMAGES AGAINST A LAW FIRM FOR BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY BY A PARTNER.
NEW YORK, New York, June 18, 2007 – A former prominent Manhattan law firm, committed a “wanton and reckless or malicious act,” a New York City jury ruled after a six-day trial, ordering Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl, LLP (“Parker Chapin”) to pay $5 million in punitive and $2 million in compensatory damages to a former client, announced Moshe Maimon, Esq., of Levy Konigsberg LLP the commercial litigation attorneys representing the plaintiff.
Henry I. Rothman, Esq., a Parker Chapin partner who now heads the Israeli practice team at the Manhattan office of the international law firm Troutman Sanders, LLP, secretly represented one businessman from a three-person partnership which already was the firm’s client in connection with a lucrative new Israeli investment banking opportunity valued at more than $42 million, the jury ruled in the breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit.
Rothman, at Parker Chapin, represented the three businessmen, forming their partnership in 1992 and negotiating with Brenner Securities, a broker-dealer, now HCFP/Brenner Securities, LLC, to operate a Tel Aviv branch of the U.S. brokerage firm, according to trial testimony.
When Joseph Bamira, Mark Greenspan, and Shlomo Greenberg formed their business partnership under Rothman’s guidance, they agreed, among other things, to remain together for 18 months in the Brenner venture as well as to share in all business opportunities that became available to them during that time, according to court records.
When the partnership began to have problems and the Brenner Tel Aviv office was struggling, the partners sought to move to another brokerage firm’s Israeli branch. Rothman, at Parker Chapin, was supposed to be representing the three partners in the move, according to trial testimony. Rothman, however, began secretly representing Greenberg alone and separately in the acquisition of the Israeli subsidiary of New Jersey-based Fidelity Medical, a lucrative opportunity that should have been available to all three partners.
Rothman’s actions were a clear conflict of interest under attorney disciplinary rules, according to Mary C. Daly, dean of St. John’s University Law School, who testified on attorney ethics as an expert witness in this case.
Rothman lied to Bamira, stating he was not representing Greenberg, according to a recorded 1993 telephone conversation transcript entered into evidence and read to the jury in the six-day trial. Bamira also found evidence that Rothman was, in fact, representing Greenberg, when he subsequently traveled to the Brenner offices in Israel, according to trial testimony.
In 2001, Bamira sued Greenberg in New York State Supreme Court. Rothman testified for Greenberg in that breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty lawsuit, in which a jury found for Bamira and ordered Greenberg to pay $5 million. Greenberg fled to Israel and transferred all assets to his wife; the judgment remains uncollected.
Rothman, according to the Troutman Sanders, LLP, website: “…represents and advises private companies and publicly traded companies, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The companies are in various industries, ranging from emerging growth and hi-tech companies to mature companies, and are located in the United States and in foreign countries. Represents clients in corporate transactions including mergers and acquisitions, private and public financings, licensing agreements, and joint ventures. Represents investment bankers, placement agents, and venture capital investors in corporate finance transactions.”
A few days into the trial, Jenkens & Gilchrist, which from 2001 to 2005 had a New York office, Jenkens & Gilchrist Parker Chapin, LLP, settled Bamira’s claims against it. The terms of that settlement were not disclosed.
The breach of fiduciary duty case began when Parker Chapin sought to collect unpaid legal fees from Bamira1. Bamira, in turn, countersued2, claiming that a law firm whose attorney is disloyal and dishonest to his client has no business trying to collect for work he did while failing to live up to his fiduciary responsibilities.
“The violations of legal ethics, in this case, were so egregious and flagrant,” Maimon said, “that we asked the jury to send a powerful, unequivocal message to the legal community that attorneys, regardless of their international stature, have absolute obligations to all their clients. New billing opportunities cannot be peeled off to be secretly handled at the expense of existing clients.”