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US firm Cooley Godward has been hit by a malpractice suit demanding more than $175m (£122.5m) in damages
The claim against the firm has been made by former client MP3.com and is one of the largest against a law firm ever filed in California. The company alleges that Cooley Godward was instrumental in its decision to launch an internet music service. MP3.com was subsequently hit by a string of suits following a judgment against it in September 2000. A federal judge in New York ruled that MP3.com had infringed Universal Music Group's copyrighted music. MP3.com has instructed Allan Browne, senior partner at California litigation firm Browne & Woods. Browne specialises in claims against law firms, having pursued unrelated actions against Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan. He will argue that Cooley Godward's alleged failure to adequately advise MP3.com as to the likelihood of adverse infringement claims ended up costing the company millions of dollars in damages. The company has spent more than $175m in settlements, judgments and legal fees. It is seeking damages from Cooley Godward for that amount plus financial reparation for loss of value and goodwill. Cooley Godward chief operating officer Mark Pritchard said: "Our view is that the claims alleged are not consistent with our relationship with MP3.com. Therefore, we see the claims as bordering on the frivolous and we will be defending them aggressively." John Keker, founding partner of San Francisco firm Keker & Van Nest, will act for Cooley Godward.