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A New York jury has ordered former Manhattan law firm Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl to pay $7 million in damages because one of its partners breached his fiduciary duties and cost his client a lucrative business deal. A New York City Civil Court jury ruled that the partner, Henry I. Rothman, committed a “wanton and reckless or malicious act.” Rothman, formerly of Parker Chapin, is now a partner in the New York office of Atlanta’s Troutman Sanders. He did not return a call seeking comment. The award was given to Joseph Bamira, a former client of Rothman’s. Rothman represented Bamira and two others, Shlomo Greenberg and Mark Greenspan, by helping them form a partnership in 1992 and negotiate to operate a Tel Aviv, Israel, branch of a U.S. brokerage firm. The three partners were supposed to share all business opportunities for 18 months, according to Bamira’s lawyer. Parker Chapin Flattau & Klimpl v. Bamira, No. 782/96 (New York Co., N.Y., Civ. Ct.). When the Tel Aviv office started struggling, Rothman was supposed to represent the three partners in a move to another brokerage firm’s Israeli branch, but instead secretly represented Greenberg in a lucrative deal involving the acquisition of an Israeli subsidiary, Bamira’s lawyer argued. On June 8, the jury ruled in favor of Bamira, awarding him $5 million in punitive and $2 million in compensatory damages. Because the $2 million is valued as of 1993, the figure could grow to $4.5 million when interest is calculated, said Moshe Maimon, a partner at New York’s Levy Phillips & Konigsberg who represented Bamira. The trial arose after Parker Chapin sued Bamira for unpaid legal fees and Bamira countersued for breach of fiduciary duties. The jury found that Bamira owes about $17,000 in legal fees. But the jury awarded Bamira the $7 million and ruled in his favor on all but one question in his countersuit. The jury also found that Rothman did not intend to benefit personally from the opportunity involving the Israeli subsidiary, except for earning legal fees. Maimon said he was pleased with the jurors’ verdict. “They did not award any fees for bills rendered for the time period where there was a conflict [of interest] and there were lies,” he said. “Therefore, it was entirely consistent with the decision that the breach of fiduciary duties was egregious in this case and therefore warranted the damages that they imposed.” Alvin Stein of Troutman Sanders, who is representing Parker Chapin, said the verdict was erroneous and will be appealed. “We believe that Bamira’s claims are without merit and the verdict will be reversed on appeal,” said Stein, of counsel to Troutman’s New York office. “We’re going to be making post-trial motions and they will be filed by the end of this week. And of course after that, if necessary, we have the appellate route.” Stein declined to specify the grounds of the appeal, but said “there are a number” of them. Bamira had previously sued Greenberg and a jury in 2001 ordered Greenberg to pay $5 million, Maimon said. In the middle of this month’s six-day trial, Bamira’s claims against Jenkens & Gilchrist, a successor to Parker Chapin, were settled under undisclosed terms, he said. Dallas-based Jenkens & Gilchrist has been plagued with problems and stopped operating on March 31, days after a settlement related to alleged criminal tax violations linked to its tax-shelter practice.

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