Business of Law

Ex-Partner Sues His Ex Law Firm, Alleges 'Machiavellian Plot' to Steal Rival Firm's Asbestos Files

The former partner in charge of the Los Angeles office of Weitz & Luxenberg has filed suit against the personal injury law firm in California state court, contending that it stole asbestos files potentially worth millions from a rival law firm.

Plaintiff Joseph Maher says he was fired by the New York-based firm after he brought to the attention of firm leaders files he found on Weitz & Luxenberg’s computer “that seemed to be a wholesale copy” of the complete asbestos practice files of a competing law firm, Waters & Kraus, Reuters reports. The documents allegedly included confidential trial strategy and settlement documents, medical records and tax records, among other material.

The lawsuit contends that the files were stolen by former attorney at the Waters firm who now works for the Weitz firm as its Los Angeles office managing partner, as part of a “Machiavellian plot” to take over the office. That partner, Benno Ashrafi, is also named as a defendant along with the Weitz firm.

The suit alleges that the anticompetitive effect on the Waters firm of having its files stolen could be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Asrafi and the Weitz firm did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters. The managing partner of the Waters firm, Peter Kraus, described the allegations as very serious and said his firm will do whatever is necessary to protect its information. He said it has been in touch with both sides in the Weitz firm litigation, and they are cooperating.

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