Law Firms

Law firm awarded $900K in suit contending departing lawyers took confidential files

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A former Boston law firm has been awarded $900,000 in its suit claiming that departing lawyers breached their duty of loyalty when they took the firm’s electronic database of files and misused confidential information.

Jurors found for the Governo Law Firm last week in its suit against six departing lawyers and the firm they formed, CMBG3 Law, according to Law360 and a press release by the Governo firm. Both firms specialized in the defense of asbestos cases.

With interest and costs, the total is nearly $1.2 million.

Lawyers and staff members at the Governo firm have moved to Duggan Buell & Rufo, according to the Governo firm’s website.

The Governo firm and name partner David Governo claimed in the lawsuit that the departing lawyers took proprietary databases that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to build. The departing lawyers had claimed that the databases belonged to the firm’s clients, who were billed for work on the data.

Governo had said the lawyers entered negotiations to buy the law firm before abruptly ending discussions and taking the databases. According to Governo, the databases contained information about client billing rates, bankruptcy filings, client correspondence, literature on asbestos litigation, expert witness backgrounds and key court rulings.

According to Law360, jurors found that the defendants had converted files and information that belonged to the Governo firm, and that all but one defendant acted together to steal the electronic databases.

“The jury also found that each individual defendant breached his or her duty of loyalty by misusing Governo’s confidential information,” according to the press release.

Jurors did not find the defendants liable for misappropriation of trade secrets or unfair practices, however.

Governo said in the press release that the verdict validates his decision to sue. “This has been a long haul, and often a difficult one,” he said.

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