Former Holland Knight partner sues over alleged $1.5M underpayment

  • Print.

A former senior partner at Holland & Knight claims in a lawsuit that the law firm owes him $1.5 million because it underpaid him for his work after attempting to change his partnership agreement.

The Sept. 23 suit (PDF) by Charles Gibbs, 80, says his pay should have been governed by a December 2002 employment agreement, but it wasn’t followed in 2012 and 2013, the New York Law Journal reports.

The suit says Gibbs has extensive experience in trust and estate matters, and his “commendable reputation” led to Holland & Knight’s representation of the executors for the $300 million estate case of heiress Huguette Clark. Gibbs says he was due $825,000 for origination credit, but he got a reduced amount after another partner claimed part of the credit.

A 2009 memo purporting to change the terms of employment for senior partners didn’t satisfy the requirements for modification in the original agreement, Gibbs alleges. Nor was he bound by a 2012 amended partnership agreement, because Gibbs didn’t sign it, the suit says.

A December 2013 letter advised Gibbs he would be an “inactive senior partner” in 2014, and when he objected, the law firm sent him a termination letter. His firing was effective at the end of March.

Holland & Knight general counsel Michael Chapman sent a statement to the New York Law Journal. “Mr. Gibbs’ compensation has been determined on an annual basis in full accordance with our partnership agreement,” Chapman said. “He has chosen to ignore the terms of our agreement and to bring an inappropriate suit. We will vigorously defend these claims.”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.