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Suit by Ex-Watkins Ludlam Partners Claims Colleagues Treated Them Unfairly for Merger Profit

Posted Nov 1, 2011 8:21 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Two former shareholders in the Mississippi law firm Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis claim in a lawsuit that seven of their one-time colleagues treated them unfairly in an effort to gain financially in an upcoming merger with Jones, Walker, Waechter, Poitevent, Carrere & Denegre.

The Oct. 14 suit filed by F. Hall Bailey and Vikki Taylor claims they were offered “grossly inadequate consideration” to resign in advance of the merger, the Am Law Daily reports, citing a report in MS Litigation Review and Commentary. When Bailey and Taylor refused to accept the deal, the suit says, they were forced out of the firm.

Bailey and Taylor say Watkins Ludlam asked them to resign on Aug. 3, about a month before the merger announcement. In exchange, the firm offered to pay their salaries through Sept. 30, to give them $5,000 in severance pay, and $100 for each of their 45 shares in Watkins Ludlam stock, the Am Law Daily says.

The plaintiffs, who collectively worked for the law firm for 20 years, say the defendants stood to profit by ousting them. “Under the terms of the agreement, the Watkins Ludlam defendants stood to gain financially if not all shareholders joined the newly constituted entity and if the financial obligations to those departing shareholders were less than their equitable share in the firm upon dissolution,” the suit (PDF) says.

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