The Business Litigation Blog

Law Firm Criticized for Trying to "Litigate Plaintiff to Death"

A DeKalb County, Georgia, judge cited a law firm for trying to force a plaintiff to settle his lawsuit by repeatedly filing baseless motions.  The plaintiff in the case, Timothy Coen, was a former general counsel at a subsidiary of the defendant’s company, CDC Software.  Coen alleged in his complaint that the company violated his employment contract when they fired him.  According to Coen, the contract stipulated CDC would pay him a $100,000 fee, plus his base salary, in the event he was terminated. CDC argued they were not obligated to pay because an injunction had frozen the company’s assets as part of a bankruptcy proceeding.

Throughout the litigation, CDC filed pointless motions in an effort to whittle down Coen’s financial resources. Frustrated with the defendant’s bullying tactics, the judge, the Honorable Dax Lopez, sanctioned CDC and forced them to pay $175,000 in Coen’s attorney’s fees. According to the judge, the defendant litigated in bad faith-- the fact that the plaintiff’s limited resources paled in comparison to the defendant’s made their actions particularly egregious.

Coen did not escape criticism from the court either, though. Coen originally sought almost $250,000 in attorney’s fees, an amount Judge Lopez felt was unjustified based on the work done by Coen’s attorneys. “Though not argued by defendants, the court questions the reasonableness of the hours billed given that the plaintiff chose to retain three separate law firms to prosecute this matter,” Lopez said.

Bad Faith Litigation

Litigation is intimidating, especially for individuals standing up to large corporations. A plaintiff does not expect a defendant to try to force
a settlement by filing frivolous motions and taking actions designed solely to drive up the costs of litigation. Most courts will not tolerate a defendant who engages in those tactics either.

If you were the subject of legal malpractice, or have questions about attorney ethics, call or email the attorneys at the Patterson Law Firm for guidance. We can advise you on your legal rights and help you choose the best course of action for your case.

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