Trials & Litigation

Woman sues estate of prominent lawyer, says he committed suicide after lying about $1.2M settlement

A woman has filed suit against the estate of a prominent New Jersey lawyer, contending that he lied about obtaining a $1.2 million settlement on her behalf before committing suicide in July.

In fact, alleges Vivien Thorsen, attorney John “Jay” Fahy never even filed an employment discrimination suit on her behalf, as he claimed he had in conversations over a three-year period updating her about the progress of her case, the Bergen Record reports.

Fahy, 58, a former federal prosecutor who subsequently served as the Bergen County prosecutor from 1990 to 1995, shot himself to death last summer while walking along an East Rutherford highway near his home. Those who had known the capable, amiable, happily married attorney were stunned. But after his death it became known that the state supreme court was about to suspend him from practice over what may have been a relatively minor billing dispute, involving a different case, according to the newspaper. An earlier article in the Record provides additional details about the circumstances surrounding Fahy’s suicide.

His law firm, Fahy Choi, declined to comment through a family friend who has been acting as a spokesman for the Fahy family. “The fact that it’s so soon after Jay’s tragic death that anyone would be filing a lawsuit against a widow and innocent staff members who had no part of the representation in any way to me screams of being opportunistic to say the least,” the spokesman, Joe Orlando, told the newspaper.

Attorney Ben Wasserman represents Thorsen in the superior court suit filed on Monday in Paterson. He said it was filed only after efforts to settle the matter failed. Because the statute of limitations for Thorsen’s employment discrimination claim expired while the alleged coverup by Fahy was ongoing, she cannot now pursue that case.

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