Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Jenks v. DLA Piper (Cal. Ct. App. - Dec. 16, 2015)

It's a slow news day.  Okay, maybe not a slow news day.  There's plenty of news in the world.  I imagine, anyway.  But on the California appellate front, there's virtually nothing.  No opinions from the Ninth Circuit.  Only one published opinion from the California Court of Appeal.

But ooohhhh!  It's a lawsuit by a former DLA Piper associate against the firm!  Vitriol!  Scandal!  Litigation!!

Okay.  Only the third of these three.  But still.  It's something.  So we can take a peek.

The plaintiff, M. Todd Jenks, graduates from the University of Florida Law School way back in 1995.  Then, according to his LinkedIn profile, he works for a smallish law firm for a couple of years, and then works for another smallish law firm for another couple of years.  (Todd's profile says he worked for the first firm starting in "January 1996," but he was only admitted to the bar in June 1996.  Maybe the dates are a bit fuzzy.  Or some lawyers don't pass the bar on the first try.)

But in May 2000, Todd breaks into "BigLaw," and joins what was then Gray Cary as an associate attorney.  Things go well.  Or at least they go.  Six years later, in February 2006, Todd signs a “Confidential Resignation Agreement and General Release of Claims.”  He gets paid until August 2006, at which point he's officially let go.

Then, in October 2009, Todd sues.  His lawsuit essentially says that the firm agreed to provide him with disability benefits but "“undervalued” his benefits by computing them based on “artificially reduced salary figures.”"  So Todd says he wasn't getting all the disability benefits to which he says he was entitled.

The thing proceeds to arbitration, despite the fact that Todd fights going there.  But once there, Todd partially wins.  The arbitrator awards him $41,000 in contract damages plus $45,000 in emotional distress benefits.

But the arbitrator finds against Todd on all this other claims.  Gray Cary (now DLA Piper) is fine with the award, and moves to confirm it.  Todd again raises objections; he wants the award modified in his favor.  But he loses.

And the Court of Appeal affirms.

Todd's still a lawyer.  Up in San Francisco.  Nice place to be.  But as far as I can tell, he's now on his own.  Twenty years out of law school.

But at least he got his original award.  So that's something.  For the holidays.