Labor & Employment

Law firm raided by FBI overbilled clients, says fired ex-clerk in federal lawsuit

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Updated: A former clerk for a West Virginia law firm says in a federal lawsuit that she blew the whistle on alleged overbilling of clients by Martin & Seibert, which was raided by the FBI in November.

Christine Blanda names the firm, multiple partners and its chief operating officer as defendants. Blanda, who was hired in 2005, contends that she was fired in January 2015 after she complained to her supervisor about “excessive and unjustified billings to publicly traded companies.” She also says she “was cooperating with other professionals” on the FBI probe, the West Virginia Record reports.

In addition to reinstatement to her job as an accounts receivable clerk, Blanda is seeking damages including punitive damages for conduct towards herself that, she alleges, amounted to threatening a federal witness.

A representative of the law firm did not respond to the Record’s calls seeking comment. However, shareholder Rick Wallace of Littler Mendelson emailed the ABA Journal on behalf of Martin & Seibert in the Christine Blanda case. “We do not comment on the specifics of pending litigation,” he wrote, “but we look forward to vigorously defending this claim.”

After the November raid, the firm released a statement saying in part: “While an action of this magnitude comes as a surprise to the firm, we were fully aware of current threats and claims against the firm by former disgruntled employees. Over the last 12 months, several attempts were made via social media to defame the character and business practices of Martin & Seibert, L.C. … We are, and will continue to fully cooperate with the FBI as the investigation ensues and are confident we will rise above these allegations and return our focus back to our clients.”

Related coverage: “Law firm raided by feds pledges cooperation, suggests ex-employees are to blame”

Updated on Feb. 2 to include comment from Littler Mendelson.

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