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BOSTON �� Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo’s lawsuit against two former of-counsel lawyers for allegedly breaking their contract with the firm to benefit new employers Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins is slated for a jurisdiction hearing on Jan. 7. The Boston-based class action firm Berman DeValerio brought breach of contract, interference with advantageous business relations and breach of fiduciary duty claims against Eran Rubinstein and Susan M. Boltz-Rubinstein. Berman DeValerio also sued them for “money had and received” for collecting over $234,775 from the firm while “directing their efforts to benefit another firm.” The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court by transferred to federal court in November. The Rubinsteins have countersued in a Pennsylvania federal court for alleged breach of contract/bad faith, defamation, intentional interference with plaintiffs’ actual and/or prospective business relations and contracts and fraudulent inducement. Rubinstein v. Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo, No. 07-04928 (E.D. Pa.). The Rubinsteins claim Berman DeValerio violated its contract with them by not opening a promised New York office so it could avoid tax liability for its New York class action cases. They also claim Berman misled them about the firm’s lack of in-house personnel “capable of understanding and working with data from international investors.” In the Massachusetts suit, Berman DeValerio claims it paid the Rubinsteins $25,000 per month between April and September 2007 to help the firm find new international institutional investor clients. Berman DeValerio also said it paid over $84,775 for the Rubinstein’s business expenses and travel. “The Rubinsteins have taken all of the clients, contacts and other information gained during their association with Berman DeValerio and are using these resources in their work for their former law firm,” stated the complaint. The Rubinsteins worked for the predecessor firm of the San Diego, Calif.-based Coughlin Stoia for one year ending in March 2007, and returned to that firm after severing ties with Berman DeValerio, according to Berman DeValerio’s complaint. Berman DeValerio also said the firm received two identically-worded letters, from two clients gained through the Rubinsteins’ efforts, that they were ending their relationship with Berman. Both letters arrived one day after the Rubinsteins stopped working with the firm. The Rubinsteins are seeking to postpone the Jan. 7 hearing on their motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction or change of venue. They want to transfer the case to Pennsylvania. In their Pennsylvania case, the Rubinsteins are asking for compensatory damages of $5 million, punitive damages of $5 million, plus interest and costs. Rubinstein v. Berman DeValerio Pease Tabacco Burt & Pucillo, No. 07-04928 (E.D. Pa.) In court papers, the Rubinsteins said Berman DeValerio’s failure to open a New York office hampered their efforts to court international clients. The Rubinsteins’ suit also said Berman DeValerio sent a letter to Coughlin accusing them of “unprofessional conduct, deception, egregious misconduct, breaches of contract and improper badgering for payment of salary.” According to the Rubinsteins’ court papers, Berman DeValerio tried to get them to open a limited liability corporation in New York under their own names because the firm had “an issue of New York tax liability,” possibly for hundreds of thousands of dollars for New York securities class action cases. Berman DeValerio partner Norman Berman called the claims “entirely baseless and silly.” “We’re in full compliance with all tax obligations,” Berman said.

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