More email nightmares...
As first reported in the ABA Journal[online] a story broke yesterday about some unfortunate emails that surfaced in a legal billing dispute between DLA Piper[DLA] and a former client. DLA had been retained by energy entrepreneur Adam H. Victor[the formidable-looking man pictured above] to prepare a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy filing for Project Orange Associates, one of Victor’s companies. DLA got to work. And DLA subsequently sent Victor a substantial bill. Victor refused to pay and DLA promptly sued him for $675,000. Victor decided to fire back and filed a countercomplaint, in which he alleged that DLA substantially overbilled him. Additionally, Victor obtained over 250,000 documents in discovery, some of which contained some very unfortunate commentary by some DLA lawyers pertaining to the growing bill.
DLA partner Erich P Eisenengger noted in one email that “I hear we are already 200K over our estimate – that’s Team DLA Piper!” In another email string, DLA attorney Christopher Thomson chimed in after learning that some lawyer named Vince had been added to the Project Orange bankruptcy team: “Now Vince has some random people working full time on random research projects in standard “churn that bill, baby!” mode”. Thomson noted that “That bill shall know no limits”.
Both Eisenegger and Thomson have since left DLA and declined to comment when contacted.
DLA may claim the emails were simply off-handed comments meant as a joke. Victor at this point however, appears not to see the humor. Victor’s attorney, Larry Hutcher recently amended the counterclaim against DLA last week, adding a fraud claim and requesting $22.5 million in punitive damages.
Good rule of thumb – always assume a client and/or jury will eventually evaluate your emails.