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Pillsbury Winthrop has asked the US courts to stay a $45m (£28.2m) defamation lawsuit brought against it by former partner Frode Jensen over allegations of sexual harrassment
A spokesperson for the Standford Superior Court, Connecticut told The Lawyer that a joint request has been made to stay the case pending non-binding mediation. It is thought that Pillsbury was the driving force behind the application. Judge Taggart Adams is now considering whether or not the trial will be stayed. Jensen publicly announced last year that he was leaving for Latham & Watkins and Pillsbury responded by issuing an extraordinary press release accusing Jensen of sexual harrassment. Jensen countered with a defamation lawsuit that said the claims were untrue in their entirety. In an amended pleading he contends that Pillsbury does not have sufficient insurance to cover his defamation suit. Jensen also claimed that during the 2001 merger between Pillsbury Madison Sutro and Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts, the firms haemorrhaged a combined 70 partners. The timing of the case is unfortunate for the US firm, which is understood to be actively pursuing a trans-Atlantic merger. Pillsbury was understood to be on Theodore Goddards list of potential merger partners and has a very close referral relationship with another possible suitor, Denton Wilde Sapte. Judge Adams is still considering a stay, but may well be reluctant to grant one until Pillsbury and Jensen put forward a concrete timetable for mediation. Pillsbury failed to return phone calls from The Lawyer. Jensens spokesperson refused to comment.