Business of Law

Lucrative Law Firm Must Dissolve, Court Rules, Because Partnership Agreement Wasn't Updated

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A lucrative asbestos litigation law firm must dissolve, an Ohio appeals court has ruled, because its partnership agreement wasn’t updated to reflect changes in the composition of its partnership roster.

The dissolution of Kelley & Ferraro was sought by the widow of founding partner Michael Kelley, so that she could claim her share of its assets after her husband’s death of a heart attack in 2006. A jury had awarded her $4.25 million after a 2006, but she had sought $3.5 billion and a new trial is called for by yesterday’s Eighth Ohio District Court of Appeals decision, reports the Plain Dealer.

It overruled a number of determinations by the trial judge that shaped the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas verdict, including his determination that the partnership agreement was invalid because Ferraro wasn’t admitted in Ohio at the time he signed it. “The plain language of the agreement required Ferraro to treat Michael Kelley’s death as an event triggering the dissolution and winding up of the K&F partnership,” the appeals court held.

Attorney William Wuliger, who represents Lynn Kelley, now says she is owed about $90 million.

Attorney John Climaco, who represents Ferraro and the law firm, vows to appeal yesterday’s decision to the Ohio Supreme Court. “This is long from over,” he tells the newspaper.

Earlier coverage: “Death of King of Torts Threatens Ohio Law Firm’s Lush Life”

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