Euro Firm Sues Nixon Peabody re Paris Office Partner ‘Raid’
Posted Aug 5, 2008 5:51 PM CDT
By Martha Neil
Now, however, they're opponents in a court case filed by the European law firm against New York-based Nixon Peabody. It contends that the Nixon firm colluded with the former managing partner of Taylor Wessing's office in Paris to violate a July 2007 written agreement by attempting to poach 12 of the firm's 15 non-equity French partners in a "raid" on the Paris office, reports the Am Law Daily.
The suit, which was filed by Dreier's name partner on Friday in New York state court in Manhattan, seeks $5 million in damages and an injunction preventing the partners from making the move to Nixon Peabody. It also asserts a breach of fiduciary duty claim against Arnaud de Senilhes, the former Paris office managing partner.
De Senilhes, who is not listed on either firm's website, could not be reached for comment. However, the case apparently turns on a November 2007 letter from de Senilhes that Nixon Peabody contends terminated the July 2007 agreement. The Nixon firm has filed a separate complaint in Monroe County, N.Y., seeking a declaratory judgment. It is represented by the Wolford Law Firm and Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler.
As the cases progress, "things are likely to get uglier," the legal blog predicts. "Nixon has accused Taylor Wessing of 'patent gamesmanship' by attempting to move the case to Manhattan. The Nixon team says the case has no standing in Manhattan and has accused Dreier of adding New York managing partner Richard Langan, Jr. as a defendant to gain standing in Manhattan.
"Taylor and Dreier, in turn, have said Nixon used the address of its Rochester office to file the complaint in Monroe and gain a 'home-field advantage.' "
A copy of the complaint (PDF) filed by Dreier against Nixon Peabody is provided by Am Law.
Says Nixon Peabody, in a statement e-mailed to ABAJournal.com by a law firm representative:
"Nixon Peabody looks forward to working with a team of partners from Taylor Wessing France as we expand our international presence to better serve our clients and seek new opportunities in Europe. Taylor Wessing France has aggressively tried to prevent partners from leaving to work with Nixon Peabody, by improperly relying on an agreement Taylor Wessing terminated nine months ago. We are forced to seek injunctive relief confirming this terminated agreement is no longer in effect. We desire a prompt resolution of this issue as we move forward with our plans for serving the European market."
Updated at 5:25 p.m., central time, on Aug. 7, 2008, to include information provided by Nixon Peabody.