Daniel Feldman’s first experience with an attorney left him soured. The former Cornell University Medical School researcher was told his qui tam whistleblower case alleging the school improperly used grant money wasn’t worth his time and aggravation, nor those of the New York attorney he had approached. Feldman was uncertain about pursuing a case he strongly believed in after what he called an “awful first legal experience.” But when he came across Salmanson Goldshaw, his views changed — and so did the outlook of his case.
In nearly a decade working with Feldman, the two-man Philadelphia labor and employment firm Salmanson Goldshaw has provided the type of personal care and attention to detail that can be difficult to find at larger firms, Feldman said. Both of the firm’s founding shareholders, Michael J. Salmanson and Scott B. Goldshaw, have worked at big firms and know the good and bad that come with the territory. Salmanson said he’s worked with partners who didn’t have a firm enough grasp on the details of a case to respond to the unexpected.
“That doesn’t happen to us very often,” Salmanson said. “Because nobody else is working on the cases but us, we spend a lot of time boring down at a micro level. We know every exhibit that’s in that exhibit binder whether it’s an inch thick or seven volumes thick.”
Salmanson and Goldshaw, who said they get most of their referrals from former opposing counsel, pride themselves on their ability to know the ins and outs of every case they work on. Despite often playing the role of David against larger firms’ Goliath, as Feldman described them, the duo’s methods resulted in several impressive victories over the past two years, a period during which attorney Katie Eyer also worked part-time with the firm. Eyer has since moved on to pursue a teaching career.
The firm’s recent victories included a $1.6 million total award for Feldman, which is pending a decision on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The firm also secured a $6.2 million jury verdict, reduced to $2.9 million following a post-trial remittitur, in Marcus et al. v. PQ Corp. In that age discrimination case, Salmanson Goldshaw used a pretext theory to establish PQ’s liability for terminating plaintiffs Bonnie Marcus and Roman Wypart. Marcus said she was scared heading into the litigation process for the first time, but found Salmanson and Goldshaw to be “embracing.”
“They were completely tuned in to what the case was about, where it stood and what was going on,” Marcus said.
“They know we care about them and their case, and if we take it on it’s because we’re prepared to do it right,” Goldshaw said of the firm’s clients. “We’re in close communication with them. It’s important to us that they understand what we’re doing.”
PQ and U.S. ex rel Feldman v. Cornell University and Wilfred van Gorp both showed the firm at its best, navigating through the efforts of much larger opposing counsel (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and Hogan Lovells, respectively) and the usual twists and turns of litigation.
“They must have had 20 lawyers and legal assistants in that room,” Feldman said of Hogan Lovells. “They went no-holds-barred in expenditures. And then it’s me and Michael sitting up at the front table and behind us is this army of lawyers.”
But the size of the opposition doesn’t stand in Salmanson Goldshaw’s way.
The firm helped client John Stanger to a $3.75 million arbitration award under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act against his former employer, a major international technology company. The team also represented David Goodstein, who blew the whistle on alleged fraud in the financial aid program at CHI Institute’s Broomall, Pa., campus. At the time it was the first whistleblower case filed against CHI parent company Kaplan Higher Education in which the government intervened. Salmanson Goldshaw helped to reach a $1.6 million settlement, of which Goodstein received $225,000.
In addition to working on several larger cases, Salmanson Goldshaw takes its share of smaller work, too. But while some might view it as lower-level or associate work, Goldshaw said it helps he and Salmanson to understand the foundation on which the higher-level work is built. But no matter the client or the size of the case, the firm’s approach to the personal nature of employment law remains the same.
“On some of these cases, there were times when the clients were almost ready to give up and we wouldn’t let them,” said Salmanson. “We were in this with them and we were in it for the long haul.” •