Kasowitz Benson is sanctioned for 'dilatory tactics' in suit accusing it of malicious prosecution
Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter. Photo by Susan Walsh/The Associated Press.
Updated: A Florida judge has ordered Kasowitz Benson Torres and one of its former partners to pay attorney fees for “dilatory tactics” in a lawsuit filed by the wife of Marvel Entertainment chairman Isaac “Ike” Perlmutter.
Judge G. Joseph Curley of Palm Beach County, Florida, ordered payment of fees in connection with Laura Perlmutter’s motion for a default judgment in her malicious prosecution suit, Law360 reports.
The suit, filed in December 2021, alleged that Kasowitz Benson pursued frivolous litigation and sought an unfounded criminal prosecution of Laura Perlmutter based on contaminated DNA test results. Those results falsely implicated Perlmutter in a hate-mail campaign against her Florida neighbor, who was a Kasowitz Benson client, the suit says.
The DNA was secretly collected from water bottles and papers at a deposition of the Perlmutters by a lawyer not named in the lawsuit, according to the lawsuit. The true perpetrator was a disgruntled employee of the neighbor, the suit says.
Curley said Kasowitz Benson filed its response to the lawsuit 38 days late.
“Defendants are not free to ignore a court-imposed deadline in favor of their preferred schedule,” he wrote.
Kasowitz Benson first sought an extension of time to answer the complaint until March 2. Pelmutter agreed to that extension. On March 2, Kasowitz Benson filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, which was amended the next day.
After the law firm didn’t set a hearing on the motion, Curley ordered a hearing within 30 days. Curley ruled against the dismissal motion and ordered an answer to the complaint by Aug. 9. Rather than respond, Kasowitz Benson sought another extension to pursue the appeal. Curley denied the request, and an appeals court denied the law firm’s appeal. Kasowitz Benson filed its answer Sept. 16.
Aug. 9 remained the due date, Curley said.
“The law is clear that an extension request is no substitute for a responsible pleading,” Curley wrote.
“Defendants’ dilatory tactics required plaintiff to initiate unnecessary motion practice and return to court for another hearing,” Curley said. “Plaintiff is entitled to attorney’s fees and costs that she incurred as a result of defendants’ bad faith behavior.”
Lawyers for Kasowitz Benson didn’t immediately respond to the ABA Journal’s request for comment.
The law firm told Reuters that the fee award to Perlmutter was “unwarranted and contrary to long-standing accepted practice.”
“We had no prior notice or proper opportunity to be heard,” the statement said.
Kasowitz Benson also said there was “no basis for the entire lawsuit.”
Updated Oct. 11 at 8:45 a.m. to include the statement from Kasowitz Benson Torres.