Business of Law

Longtime Obermayer Partner Is Fired Over Phila. Family Court Development Deal

Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel has fired a longtime real estate partner after questions were raised about his dual role, as an attorney and as a developer, concerning a planned new Philadelphia family court building.

Jeffrey Rotwitt’s partnership was terminated Thursday by the firm’s management committee, effective immediately, reports the Legal Intelligencer.

Obermayer Rebmann said in a written statement that it didn’t know Rotwitt was serving as a co-developer of the facility until the Philadelphia Inquirer recently brought this to light.

However, Rotwitt has said he did nothing wrong, and is being scapegoated, reports the Inquirer. The 59-year-old partner had been at the Obermayer firm for 35 years.

The newspaper reports that the Obermayer firm was paid about $1.3 million of a $3.9 million fee that Rotwitt was to earn by finding a site for the new facility. The fee was approved by Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald Castille, but he has now killed the state’s deal with Donald Pulver to construct the $200 million project.

Rotwitt was to earn another $500,000 as Pulver’s co-developer on the project, but he terminated his partnership with Rotwitt’s Deilwydd Property Group FC LLC in a letter last week, the newspaper says.

“We have to figure out who got paid what,” Castille told the Inquirer on Thursday. “Our lawyers are going to get to the bottom of that. We will take the appropriate action when we learn the facts.”

Rotwitt has said that he served as a broker, rather than a lawyer, concerning the $3.9 million deal with the supreme court, and became involved as a developer with Pulver only after he had completed his work for the state. He also said his dual role was disclosed and documented, the Inquirer reports.

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