BigLaw partner resigns after terminally ill ex-wife posted videos of his tirades
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A Greenberg Traurig partner has resigned from the law firm following its investigation into a situation arising from a four-year divorce and custody battle.
Greenberg Traurig didn’t offer details. In a June 2 statement, Greenberg Traurig said it was reviewing partner Allan Kassenoff’s status with the firm, despite findings by four judges and two court-appointed forensic examiners who found no “wrongdoing or abuse as to his children” and no domestic violence.
In a June 11 statement, the firm said it concluded its review, and Allan Kassenoff has resigned, effective immediately.
The June 2 statement said the judges in Allan Kassenoff’s litigation had made their findings of no wrongdoing after reviewing evidence that included “some videos.” Allan Kassenoff was awarded sole legal custody.
Allan Kassenoff’s terminally ill ex-wife, Catherine Kassenoff, was a former federal prosecutor and former special counsel to the governor of New York. She is said to have posted the videos while announcing plans to die in a medically assisted suicide in Switzerland on May 27.
Videos circulating online show Allan Kassenoff yelling, telling Catherine Kassenoff that he hates her and regrets ever meeting her, calling her a “fat, old loser” and declaring that he won’t take their “spoiled” daughter to school or activities, according to online videos and coverage by the New York Post, News12 Westchester, the Daily Mail, Ms. magazine and Above the Law.
“There’s no excuse for the behavior captured in these videos,” according to Joe Patrice in Above the Law. “No matter what’s going on in a relationship, the ‘BigLaw screamer’ routine is a toxic environment for children. And insulting and denigrating the other parent in the presence of the kids is heartbreaking to watch. The children’s reactions captured in these clips drive home how damaging it is to witness this sort of rage between caregivers.”
Patrice cautioned, however, that “these are only a few minutes of the family story, captured by a former prosecutor in the midst of a contentious custody fight.” Above the Law posted part of an opinion in the divorce that found “manipulative conduct” by Catherine Kassenoff and evidence that she made false allegations of abuse against Allan Kassenoff.
Kassenoff filed for divorce in May 2019, according to a February decision by the New York State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division. He had sought sole legal and physical custody of the children based on text messages between Catherine Kassenoff and her friend, who is also a lawyer.
Catherine Kassenoff asked a court to compel Allan Kassenoff to return or destroy the messages. The appeals court affirmed a decision denying Catherine Kassenoff’s request, based on a finding that the messages were not exchanged as part of an attorney-client relationship.
Catherine Kassenoff also filed a lawsuit seeking return of the texts in federal court, which was tossed in March because the issue had already been litigated in state court. Catherine Kassenoff claimed that Allan Kassenoff illegally obtained access to her texts and emails after she gave him her Apple ID to buy a song through the iTunes store on his laptop.
Greenberg Traurig referred to the children in its June 11 statement announcing Allan Kassenoff’s resignation.
“The firm is sensitive to the needs of the three children, the primary victims of the situation, and therefore will be creating a dedicated trust fund with an independent trustee for the sole benefit of these children to be voluntarily funded by the lawyers and staff of our firm,” the statement said. “We wish healing and privacy to the children during this very difficult situation.”
Gus Dimopoulos, a lawyer for Allan Kassenoff, did not immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s requests for comment in a phone message and an email.