Trials & Litigation

Ex-DLA Piper partner caught in 'churn that bill, baby!' crossfire sues firm's counsel


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It’s been years since a litigated billing dispute between DLA Piper and a former client brought an embarrassing “churn that bill, baby!” comment in an internal law firm email to light.

Although DLA Piper said the email was an offensive attempt at humor, the firm emphasized that there was, in fact, no inappropriate billing.

However, a former DLA Piper partner caught in the crossfire is apparently still smarting about extensive publicity over the email thread’s production in discovery, even though he didn’t write the “churn that bill, baby!” comment, according to Courthouse News.

On Friday, Erich Eisenegger filed suit in Baltimore Circuit Court against DLA Piper’s counsel in the billing dispute. He contends that his reputation was permanently damaged by Kramon & Graham’s production of “no less than 246,019 pages of unreviewed, unredacted documents” and says the firm should have notified him, as an extension of its ethical duty to inform its client, DLA Piper, the article reports.

When the DealBook page of the New York Times (reg. req.) reported on the DLA Piper emails in 2013, Eisenegger had already moved on to a new job at McDermott Will & Emery.

Eisenegger says he lost his job there and suffered reputation damage as a result of the “media frenzy” caused by the Kramon firm’s alleged mishandling of discovery in the DLA Piper bill-dispute litigation with Adam Victor.

He also argues that DLA Piper criticized those involved in the email chain rather than attempting to put it in context. In fact, Eisenegger says, the emails were “part of a much more thoughtful and serious discussion amongst associates and a DLA partner about DLA’s billing habits.” He claims that a publicized comment he did add—“I hear we are already 200k over our estimate….that’s Team DLA!”—was taken out of context and had been intended as a warning, Courthouse News reports.

Asserting causes of action for claimed legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, Eisenegger is seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Kramon & Graham and two partners.

The Kramon firm has not responded to requests for comment by Courthouse News. DLA Piper and Victor are not parties to the litigation, the article notes.

Related coverage: “‘Churn that bill, baby!’ email surfaces in fee dispute with DLA Piper” “DLA Piper settles fee-dispute case that brought ‘churn that bill, baby!’ email to light”

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