Judge Ronnie Abrams (Diego M. Radzinschi)
U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams has rebuffed Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan once again, rejecting the firm’s attempt to appeal her prior decision denying its motion to dismiss a suit filed earlier this year by a contract attorney seeking overtime pay he claims he is owed for document review work he did.
Abrams tossed Quinn Emanuel’s motion to dismiss the suit—which attorney William Henig filed in Manhattan federal district court in March—earlier this month. In his complaint, Henig alleges that Quinn Emanuel and legal staffing agency Providus violated overtime pay provisions of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) during the six-week stint he spent as a contract attorney in August 2012 doing document review related to pending litigation in August.
Henig is represented by Joseph & Kirschenbaum partner D. Maimon Kirschenbaum, who argues that the tasks his client performed did not qualify as the kind of work requiring “advanced knowledge” that is exempt from FLSA overtime rules. (As The Am Law Daily has previously reported, Kirschenbaum represents a second contract attorney who has filed a similar federal suit against Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. A decision on a Skadden motion to dismiss that suit filed earlier this month is pending.)
In response to Abrams’ ruling that Henig’s suit could proceed to limited discovery, Quinn Emanuel moved on Dec. 19 for approval to pursue an interlocutory appeal of the judge’s earlier decision allowing the litigation to proceed to limited discovery. In a memorandum [PDF] filed in support of its motion to pursue the appeal, the firm argued that “the legal industry desperately needs the [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second] Circuit’s guidance on how to compensate contract attorneys hired to perform document review.”
The memorandum—filed on behalf of both the firm and Providus’ parent company, Document Technologies—also asked Abrams to stay the Henig action pending appeal. Quinn Emanuel added that a decision from the Second Circuit would spare the suit’s parties—namely, Quinn Emanuel’s client, the Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA)—from the “difficult, if not impossible, task” of conducting discovery related to the nature of Henig’s work for the firm in connection with the FHFA litigation.
Taking just one day to swat down the Quinn Emanuel motion, Abrams ruled on Dec. 20 [PDF] that the case should proceed as planned to determine whether the work Henig performed for Quinn Emanuel qualified as practicing law.
As The Am Law Daily has previously reported, Quinn Emanuel is being represented in the matter by Marc Greenwald, the firm’s white-collar and corporate investigations cochair; Bryan Cave employment partner Zachary Hummel is representing Providus and Document Technologies.