Law Firms

Law firm and its name partner are using the courts for 'their own self-aggrandizement,' suit says

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A Chicago law firm claims in a lawsuit that the Edelson class action boutique and its founding partner are filing nuisance lawsuits and using the courts to “further their own self-aggrandizement.”

The plaintiff, Johnson & Bell, is suing Edelson for alleged defamation and abuse of process, report the National Law Journal (sub. req.), the Cook County Record and Crain’s Chicago Business. Edelson has offices in Chicago and San Francisco.

Johnson & Bell was a defendant in a suit filed by Edelson last year that claimed Johnson & Bell was putting its own clients at risk because of lax cybersecurity. Those allegations were false, according to the Johnson & Bell lawsuit. Above the Law provides a copy of the lawsuit, filed March 28 in Cook County, Illinois.

Johnson & Bell alleges in its lawsuit that Edelson and its founding partner Jay Edelson “fashion themselves as a ‘leader in privacy and tech-related class actions.’ In fact, their ‘practice’ largely consists of nothing more than preying upon unsuspecting businesses, conjuring up nonexistent issues, and then attempting to extort settlements that benefit no one but themselves through payments for their nuisance lawsuits.”

According to the suit, the Edelson defendants “have illegally abused the process of the courts to further their own self-aggrandizement and have engaged in a self-serving publicity tour spreading their lies and defamatory statements about J&B.”

The suit claims that Edelson voluntarily withdrew the cybersecurity suit, yet moved to unseal it and then publicize it on Twitter. Edelson later filed a malpractice arbitration against Johnson & Bell on behalf of the cybersecurity plaintiff, according to the suit.

The Johnson & Bell lawsuit alleges some ethical missteps by Edelson. Edelson’s cybersecurity plaintiff was Coinabul, a company sued by Edelson in 2014 for allegedly defrauding its customers. Johnson & Bell had represented Coinabul in the 2014 suit before withdrawing from the case.

Johnson & Bell maintains Edelson was representing Coinabul on the malpractice claim even as it continued to represent the plaintiff suing Coinabul in the 2014 suit.

On the one hand, the suit says, Edelson contended that Coinabul defrauded customers out of $1.5 million. On the other hand, the suit says, Edelson claimed in its arbitration that Johnson & Bell failed to present a “bullet proof defense” to the 2014 suit.

Jay Edelson told the National Law Journal in an email that the Johnson & Bell suit was “silly.”

“This looks like an attempt to do some late-in-the-game damage control, rather than something more legitimate,” Edelson told the publication. “We obviously will be responding in a very pointed manner and look forward to seeing how this unfolds. We do wonder if, in the end, Johnson & Bell will regret going down this path.”

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