…As total lawsuits against firm breach $20m mark

Coudert Brothers faces a slew of lawsuits across the world, which is costing former partners hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in legal fees.

The amount claimed by litigants has topped $20m (£10.67m), with cases running in just about every jurisdiction in which Coudert practised.

Many of the cases involve Coudert’s premises, with disputes arising over unpaid rent. By far the largest is a $15m (£8m) claim filed by the firm’s landlord for its San Francisco Cannery offices. According to San Francisco press reports, Coudert dissolved with $2.5m (£1.33m) a year still owing on its 10-year lease after moving in during 2000.

Coudert also faces a claim from the landlord for its office in One Market, also in San Francisco. The lawsuit is for rent and lease termination damages totalling $260,000 (£138,700).

The firm’s other California offices are also subject to litigation. Rent and termination damages of $675,000 (£360,000) are claimed by the landlord in Palo Alto, while there is also a dispute over $880,000 (£269,350) in San Jose.

Coudert’s Washington DC landlord has filed a similar claim, while a dispute with the landlord in Paris is ongoing. The French landlord sued for f1.3m (£880,000), but Coudert has been able to offset some of this amount through an auction of fittings and furniture and its security deposit.

Other cases the firm is dealing with include claims for unpaid fees from unsecured creditors such as service providers, including technology companies, consultants and storage providers.

Two partners – DC-based Marian Hagler and Los Angeles partner Don Lemmer – are involved in arbitration over wrongful termination.

As revealed by The Lawyer (5 June 2006), Beijing associate Wang Yuanming is also suing Coudert for unfair dismissal.

Disputes Involving Coudert Brothers

Property
– Paris: Landlord suing the firm and individual partners for unpaid rent. The claim originally totalled €1.3m (£880,000), but has since been reduced to €712,000 (£480,000).

– San Francisco: Landlord suing the firm for $15m (£8m) in respect of Coudert’s Cannery offices. Landlord for the firm’s One Market offices also suing for $260,000 (£138,700) in respect of rent and termination damages.

– Palo Alto: Landlord suing for rent and termination damages, totalling $675,000 (£360,000).

– San Jose: Landlord has claimed lease termination damages, but no lawsuit has yet been filed.

– Washington DC: Landlord suing for rent and termination damages.

Claims from clients and service providers
– Statek Corporation is suing Coudert and UK partners Steven Beharrell and Dean Poster for malpractice, fraud and negligence.

– A number of service providers, including Array Technology, Elisa Reporting, Océ Business, Ruder Finn and Watson CSR, are claiming for payment.

Claims from partners and employees
– Wang Yuanming, a Beijing associate now at DLA Piper, is bringing a claim for wrongful termination.

– Marian Hagler, previously a corporate partner in DC, is involved in an arbitration over wrongful termination.

– Don Lemmer, previously a partner in Los Angeles, is also involved in an arbitration over wrongful termination.

– Stephen Montravers, formerly a partner in Paris, is suing Coudert and 10 individual partners for €2m (£1.35m) in respect of his alleged wrongful dismissal at the end of 2003.