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The Florida lawyer who last year won financier Ronald O. Perelman a $1.6 billion verdict in a suit against investment bank Morgan Stanley & Co. has set his sights on law firm Proskauer Rose. John “Jack” Scarola of West Palm Beach’s Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley is representing two former Proskauer clients in two separate suits against the 715-lawyer New York firm. Both plaintiffs claim Proskauer breached its fiduciary duty to them, giving faulty advice that wound up costing them millions. One of the suits involves an investor who claims he was sucked into a disastrous investment by professionals eager for more fees, a situation Scarola said broadly paralleled that of Perelman. “[Proskauer] clearly ignored warning signs that things were not going well with the transaction,” Scarola said last week. But Robert Kafin, a Proskauer partner and the firm’s general counsel, said his firm had acted appropriately in the matters at issue in the suits, both of which were filed in Palm Beach County Circuit Court. “We didn’t do anything wrong and we’re going to defend ourselves,” he said. The firm is participating in its own defense but is also being represented by James Beasley of West Palm Beach’s Beasley Hauser Kramer Leonard & Galardi. In the earlier of the two suits, filed at the end of last year, investor M. Lee Pearce claims that his longtime lawyer, Proskauer partner Stuart Rosow, also named individually as a defendant, deceived him into making a bad investment. Pearce, who is asking for $19.5 million in damages, stated in his complaint that Rosow had been his lawyer since the 1970s and he moved his business to Proskauer after Rosow joined that firm from New York’s Kaye Scholer in 1998. Pearce claims that he paid Proskauer millions in fees between 1998 and 2004. According to the complaint, Rosow approached Pearce in 1998 about investing in three health maintenance organizations that were consolidating into a larger health care company. Pearce retained Proskauer to evaluate the investment and perform due diligence for the proposed transaction. He claims he also asked that any investment be structured to protect him from any personal liability and to cast him as a minority investor. Pearce, who initially invested $5 million in the new HMO group, AmCareco, alleges Rosow withheld information about the constituent HMOs’ poor financial performance and dissuaded him from pulling out of the transaction on more than one occasion. Despite Rosow’s alleged assurances about the involvement of other substantial investors, Pearce says his $5 million, later buttressed by a $1.5 million loan, made him the majority investor, with only $3.5 million in capital coming from elsewhere. He claims that he was identified as such in AmCareco press statements, and, when the money-losing HMOs were placed in receivership in 2003, he was sued by the receiver. The second suit against Proskauer, filed on March 17, stems from the firm’s representation of Boca Aviation Inc. The company, which provides fueling and hangaring services, claims it lost its right to develop a 15-acre parcel at the Boca Raton Airport due to negligence on the part of Proskauer.

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