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They call them closing arguments for a reason. Although no one reported seeing sparks fly, the attorneys in Adlerstein v. Duane Morris� a $1.6 million legal malpractice case that pits a former client against the firm � were noticeably more heated in their closing arguments yesterday than when the case opened on Feb. 4. Both Nicholas M. Centrella of Conrad O’Brien Gellman & Rohn, who represents Duane Morris, and Clifford E. Haines of Clifford E. Haines & Associates, who represents physicist Joseph K. Adlerstein, threw in some objections during opposing counsel’s closing arguments. Haines had said in opening statements that Duane Morris was responsible for his client only receiving $200,000 of a $1.8 million settlement with SpectruMedix, the company he founded. And that $200,000, he said, ultimately went toward rising legal bills from Duane Morris. The case is being held in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court’s Commerce Court Program before Judge Howland W. Abramson. The eight-member jury was set to get its charge by 2 p.m. yesterday. In his closing, Haines told the jury from the start that “sometimes in the heat of the battle lawyers get excited.” When he stood up for his rebuttal arguments, he apologized if his voice was louder. “I don’t like it when lawyers stand in front of juries and accuse the other side” of being untruthful and begin to argue points outside of the evidence, Haines said of Centrella’s closing. He said Centrella asked the jury to speculate about what actions Adlerstein should have taken against the new owner of SpectruMedix, Ilan Reich, individually. Haines said Centrella also wanted the jury to evaluate Haines’ representation of Adlerstein. “That’s thrown at you by 25 blow-ups to see how many different places you can be taken to mislead you,” Haines said of Duane Morris’ exhibits. In his closing, Centrella had said Adlerstein’s testimony was conflicting in regard to whether Duane Morris attorneys asked for security. He also said that Haines has represented Adlerstein since at least 2004 and has never suggested going after Reich personally for the money promised Adlerstein in the settlement agreement. The attorneys were arguing to the jury about who � if anyone � was to blame for Adlerstein being left with no company and no money from the settlement. Centrella said everyone lost because the company ultimately went under. He argued in his closing that Adlerstein ran the company into the ground and Duane Morris was faced with the difficult task of arguing to a Delaware Chancery Court judge that Adlerstein deserved a stake in the company that was unexpectedly taken from him by Reich and two other board members on July 9, 2001. Both sides said Duane Morris and its partners John Reed � now of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge � and Scott Penwell � now of Stevens & Lee � were successful in returning Adlerstein to his position in the company. Vice Chancellor Stephen P. Lamb stayed his own order, however, over concerns of the health of the company and asked that recommendations for SpectruMedix’s future management be proposed by both sides. Centrella said it was Adlerstein’s own decisions and risk-taking regarding two ensuing settlement agreements that caused him to lose out on up to $1.8 million. Haines told the jury that it was Duane Morris’ inaction to include any form of security in the final settlement agreement that gave Adlerstein no chance of collecting the money. Centrella said to the jury that Duane Morris asked SpectruMedix and Reich for security and it was declined. He said there was no way the company would have agreed to it and Adlerstein signed the agreement anyway. Haines questioned whether there was ever a request for security. Haines argued that it was the duty of Duane Morris to advise Adlerstein that signing the second agreement was a bad decision. Centrella said lawyers don’t make decisions for clients. Most of the closing arguments focused on Adlerstein’s bargaining position when he went into these settlement negotiations. Haines said Adlerstein had the upper hand because of the award in his favor from Lamb. Centrella argued that Adlerstein never had the upper hand because Reich � who at that point had control of the company � would have taken SpectruMedix into bankruptcy and taken all of the proceeds. The Two Settlement Agreements Adlerstein created what was ultimately known as SpectruMedix in 1991. The company made what Haines called DNA synthesizers. Haines said that, as with any start-up, the public company went through its ups and downs over the years and Adlerstein was always looking for investors. The two board members other than Adlerstein had found a potential investor � Reich � but he had wanted the whole stake in the company, according to Haines. On July 9, 2001, the two board members and Reich held a meeting to which they invited Adlerstein, Haines said. They told him that they issued new stock that would all go to Reich and Adlerstein was fired, according to Haines’ opening statement. Adlerstein went to corporate partner Penwell in Harrisburg, who ultimately brought on Wilmington litigation partner Reed. SpectruMedix was incorporated in Delaware, and a trial against the company was held in late 2001 before Lamb. After recommendations were requested for how the company could operate going forward, mediation between the two sides ensued. In February 2002, a handwritten agreement was created that said SpectruMedix would give Adlerstein $800,000 and a limited stake in the company. The agreement only needed to be formalized to go into effect, but Haines said in court that Adlerstein started pressing his attorneys to be more specific in the agreement because they were dealing with Reich. Centrella said in his opening statements that the deal provided for 15 percent interest in the company along with $800,000 but Adlerstein decided after he signed that he wanted to be able to independently sue the other two board members. “As soon as the agreement was signed, Dr. Adlerstein had buyer’s remorse,” Centrella said. On July 24, 2002, a second agreement was signed that provided for Adlerstein to be paid $1.2 million plus a salary of about $600,000 over five years, Haines said. Adlerstein was supposed to receive $200,000 immediately and another $200,000 every six months, Haines said. He received the first payment, which he sent right to Duane Morris, and never received another payment from SpectruMedix, he said. Haines said Reich declared liquidation in the fall of 2006 and sold the intellectual property behind the DNA synthesizers for $2.5 million. Duane Morris originally brought suit against Adlerstein when he did not pay all of the nearly $480,000 in legal fees generated by the firm’s representation of him during trial against SpectruMedix and in subsequent settlement talks. That case, Duane Morris v. Adlerstein, was brought in 2003, about a year before Adlerstein filed his legal malpractice claim. After a bench trial, then-Judge Gene D. Cohen had awarded Duane Morris $315,700 in legal fees to be paid by Adlerstein, according to an opinion in that case. That included the $280,000 that was remaining of the bill plus interest, Cohen said.

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