Posted Jan 11, 2012 11:21 pm CST
Ruling from the bench yesterday, a New York judge dismissed a $77 million lawsuit filed against Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman by a former first-year associate who said he was unfairly fired by the firm in 2011.
Because Gregory Berry signed a valid release after reaching a $27,000 severance agreement with the New York law firm, held Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Eileen Bransten, he is precluded from pursuing his tortious interference case, reports Law 360 (sub. req.).
“You can’t make an offer that was accepted by the Kasowitz firm and then flip-flop and say, ‘I’m not going to be bound by it,’ ” the judge told Berry during the hearing.
Although the case has been dismissed with prejudice, it isn’t yet over for Berry. He is scheduled to return to court Jan. 24, so the judge can decide whether to hold him in contempt, a court clerk told Reuters.
The clerk declined to say why, but an Above the Law post, relying on unidentified sources, says the judge had seemingly finished hearing the case and then called the lawyers back to the bench so she could further discuss her reasoning.
Partner Joseph Piesco, representing Kasowitz, heard her and returned; Berry exited the courtroom. It isn’t clear whether he heard the judge and ignored her or simply didn’t realize the judge had more to say.
Berry did not immediately respond to email and phone messages from the ABA Journal seeking comment. The law firm declined to comment.
As detailed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, Berry said in his complaint, among other allegations, that Kasowitz partners had not made full use of his legal abilities:
“After working here for several months now, it has become clear that I have as much experience and ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill writing and a superior legal mind to most I have met,” Berry wrote in an email to partners, encouraging them to send him more work.
Instead, they fired him not long after receiving the email. A partner told him it had “burned bridges.”
ABAJournal.com: “Fired Kasowitz First-Year Sues for $77M, Says Firm Didn’t Appreciate His ‘Superior Legal Mind’”
ABAJournal.com: “Kasowitz: Associate Who Touted Superior Legal Mind Can’t Claim Ouster Deal Was Unconscionable”
ABAJournal.com: “Ex-Associate with ‘Superior Legal Mind’ Calls Kasowitz ‘Extraordinarily Vindictive’ in Latest Salvo”