Business of Law

Ex-Associate Can't Seek Punitives from Orrick for Allegedly Misstating His Partnership Potential


A former associate seeking big bucks from Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe for allegedly misleading him that he would be seriously considered for partnership has had his damages claim further narrowed by the New York state judge hearing the case.

Justice Bernard Fried last week granted the law firm’s motion to strike Patrick Hoeffner’s claim for punitive damages in the lawsuit he filed in 2005 in Manhattan Supreme Court, reports the New York Law Journal. The article is reprinted in New York Lawyer (reg. req.).

However, Hoeffner says he will appeal. And, although a number of claims have been eliminated by Fried from Hoeffner’s breach of contract and tort case, a prior appellate court ruling in 2009 reinstated a cause of action for fraudulent inducement, the article notes.

Hoeffner alleges that he turned down offers at other law firms to stay at Orrick after three partners promised him that he was in the pipeline for partnership. However, these promises were false, he now contends, and intended to persuade him not to take a big client with him to another firm.

He was asked to leave in 2004 without ever being considered for partnership, according to the suit.

Andrew Gordon of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison represents Orrick. He says the firm is very pleased with the judge’s decision on punitives and looks forward to the upcoming trial. “Our clients did nothing wrong here,” he states.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com (Aug. 2008): “Judge Limits Ex-Associate’s Suit Over Orrick Partnership Promise”

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