Wife of 'third founder of Google' accuses Morrison & Foerster of 'betrayal' in divorce
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The wife of Scott Hassan, a tech entrepreneur who helped write Google’s original code, is suing Morrison & Foerster for allegedly breaching its fiduciary duty to her by representing her husband's interests after she filed for divorce.
The July 28 lawsuit by Allison Huynh, filed in California superior court, says Morrison & Foerster represented Hassan in a way that caused her financial harm, even though she was a past client of the firm.
“This case arises from Morrison & Foerster’s disloyalty to and betrayal of a former client,” the suit says.
Morrison & Foerster was “the willing architect and facilitator” of Hassan’s “nefarious scheme to cheat his wife and children out of hundreds of millions of dollars,” the suit alleges.
Before the divorce filing, Morrison & Foerster had represented Huynh in the formation of her own tech company while also representing tech and real-estate family companies launched by Hassan, the suit says. The suit describes Hassan as the widely acknowledged “third founder of Google.”
When Huynh filed for divorce, Morrison & Foerster “improperly chose sides, aligning themselves with Hassan,” according to the suit.
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The firm “associated in” as Hassan’s counsel, represented at least six Hassan-affiliated deponents, and “continued to represent the family companies that Hassan managed in a way that was detrimental” to Huynh, according to her lawsuit against the law firm.
The family court judge in the divorce disqualified Morrison & Foerster from representing Hassan in that action, but the law firm “decided to flout rather than follow” the order by continuing to assist Hassan in the divorce and by representing companies he managed, the suit alleges.
Morrison & Foerster helped Hassan orchestrate a “fire sale” of one of his companies, Suitable Technologies, “for a paltry $400,000,” a transaction designed to create a $90 million tax benefit for Hassan, according to the suit.
Huynh says she owned half of Suitable Technologies, and she was forced to file a suit to stop the sale. She incurred more than $1.1 million in attorney fees in that successful lawsuit that she wasn’t able to recover in the divorce action, she says.
The new suit alleges breach of fiduciary duty and interference with prospective economic advantage by Morrison & Foerster. Morrison & Foerster partner Paul “Chip” Lion III is also named as a defendant.
Morrison & Foerster gave this statement to the ABA Journal: “We deny all the allegations made by the plaintiff against the firm and its representatives, and we will address them in the proper forum.”