A state appeals panel has upheld a lower court’s refusal to let an ex-associate at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe seek punitive damages in his breach of contract and fraud claim against the firm. The Appellate Division, First Department, held that Patrick J. Hoeffner cannot seek punitive damages because his allegations did not demonstrate “circumstances of aggravation or outrage.” The panel wrote in Hoeffner v. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, 5289, “Neither defendants’ alleged misrepresentations concerning their support for plaintiff’s partner candidacy, nor the breach of their contractual promise to put him up for a partnership, evidence such a high degree of moral turpitude and wanton dishonesty as to imply criminal indifference.”

Mr. Hoeffner argued that three of the firm’s intellectual property partners schemed to prevent him from leaving the firm while he was involved in an important patent infringement case. He claims that, despite being promised partnership, his employment was terminated following the conclusion of the patent litigation. His lawsuit, which was filed in 2005 but has still not gone to trial, seeks $100 million, including punitive damages.