X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
The Philadelphia real estate company Albert M. Greenfield & Co. has sued Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen LLP, the firm’s chairman and a partner at the firm, seeking $76 million in compensatory and punitive damages and alleging that the corporation lost real estate deals because Wolf Block represented competing parties. The lawsuit, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, names Wolf Block Chairman Mark L. Alderman and partner Robert C. Jacobs as defendants. Greenfield is alleging five separate counts: breach of fiduciary duty, legal malpractice, intentional interference with prospective contractual relations, fraudulent misrepresentation and nondisclosure and breach of contract. The suit claims the lawyers violated seven of the Rules of Professional Conduct and seeks $19 million in compensatory damages and $57 million in punitives. Bill Hangley of Philadelphia’s Hangley Aronchick Segal & Pudlin will defend the case and said that although he hasn’t seen the complaint yet, the charges are unfounded. Hangley said Greenfield has gotten the facts “very wrong” and that Wolf Block did not represent Greenfield in any of the real estate deals. “I think we will be making every effort to have the case thrown out,” Hangley said. “We don’t think there is any basis at all for this lawsuit.” Bala Cynwyd, Pa., attorney Michael S. Silberman of Silberman & DiFilippo filed the lawsuit on behalf of Greenfield. The complaint says that in September 1997 Greenfield retained Wolf Block to handle Greenfield’s conversion of the Pennsylvania Building at 1500 Chestnut St. from office space to apartments. The plan of conversion was successful, and Greenfield planned to convert other properties in Philadelphia in the same manner. He “shared and entrusted” his plans to Alderman and Jacobs, the complaint said. In May 1999, Greenfield began an attempt to acquire The Federation Building at 226 S. 16th St. to convert it from office space to apartments. Greenfield says in the complaint that he obtained the legal advice of Wolf Block, and particularly Jacobs, to structure and finance a “sealed bid” for the building. The complaint says Jacobs and Greenfield representatives met with bank officials to discuss a possible loan for the project. According to the complaint, the bank preliminarily agreed to provide certain loans if Greenfield were the successful bidder in the $3 million range. After those meetings, however, Greenfield actually submitted a bid for $2.6 million without notifying anyone at Wolf Block. Greenfield learned afterward that his bid was the second-highest of eight bids, with the number-one bidder, a New Jersey real estate developer named James Dwyer, offering $3.066 million. The complaint says after Greenfield learned he was outbid by Dwyer, he called Jacobs and asked him if he knew who Dwyer was and if Jacobs knew who represented Dwyer. According to the complaint, Jacobs responded, “I don’t know.” But Greenfield is alleging that Wolf Block itself represented Dwyer and that Jacobs even “attended the closing of the sale of The Federation Building on behalf” of Dwyer. THE PACKARD BUILDING In September 1999, Greenfield, allegedly retaining Wolf Block lawyers to structure and finance an offer, tried to acquire The Packard Building at 111 S. 15 St. to convert the property from offices into apartments, the complaint says. After some meetings and negotiations, Greenfield prepared and sent an offer of $7.1 million to Kenneth W. Malin, the real estate broker representing the owner of the building. After more discussion, Greenfield said, the company made a renewed offer which contained two purchase prices, one if a Tower Books lease was consummated as part of the deal and one price excluding the Tower lease. The Packard Building made a counteroffer saying it would accept $7.75 million for the building alone or $8.35 million if the Tower lease were signed. Greenfield says in the complaint that he contacted Jacobs and asked him to handle the financing and closing of the deal. Between Nov. 4, 1999, and Nov. 19, 1999, Greenfield and the building engaged in negotiations to work out the “nonmonetary terms” of the proposed agreement of sale. On Nov. 19, Jacobs told Greenfield that Greenfield “lost the deal” for The Packard Building. Greenfield asked Jacobs who bought it, and Jacobs said Dwyer did, according to the complaint. Hangley counters that Wolf Block did not represent Greenfield in either The Federation Building or The Packard Building deals. Hangley also said no attorneys at Wolf Block were involved in the representation of Dwyer until after he had already made successful bids on the two properties. After Greenfield learned of his failed attempt to acquire The Packard Building, he called Malin, and Malin told Greenfield that Dwyer’s deal “came out of nowhere,” according to the complaint. BROKERAGE COMMISSION SUIT Meanwhile, before the negotiations for The Federation Building and The Packard Building, in April 1998 Greenfield filed a civil action against Quinnco 1600 Arch LLC. Greenfield alleges that it sought payment of about $1.2 million for a leasing brokerage commission from a “lease” deal Greenfield says it brokered between Quinnco as landlord and Wolf Block as tenant. The property in question was at 1600 Arch St. Silberman represented Greenfield in that case. SunAmerica Affordable Housing Partners held at least a 50 percent partnership interest in Quinnco. Hangley said Greenfield had introduced Wolf Block to the transaction, and when Quinnco and SunAmerica pulled out of the transaction with the firm, Greenfield sued the companies because the deal deprived him of his commission. Wolf Block also filed suit in that case but decided not to sue Greenfield for the failed deal. Hangley said Wolf Block did not represent Greenfield during the negotiations. During settlement negotiations in the Quinnco litigation, Greenfield says in the complaint against the firm, Greenfield spoke with Jacobs about possibly buying the Arch St. property. In addition, the complaint says that Jacobs tried to mediate a settlement of the Greenfield/Quinnco litigation. In October 1999, the complaint says, Jacobs called Albert M. Greenfield III to inform him that Alderman wanted a meeting the next day consisting of Greenfield, Alderman, Jacobs and Dan Keating, Quinnco’s contractor, to try and mediate a settlement in the Quinnco litigation. The complaint alleges that Alderman “pressured” Albert Greenfield to accept a settlement of $250,000. The complaint goes on to allege that Alderman, while holding himself out as Greenfield’s attorney, was really representing the interest of Keating in the Quinnco litigation. Further, says the complaint, Greenfield believes that Keating was and/or was in the process of becoming a partner in Quinnco. Greenfield claims the loss of the deals has cost him $19 million in revenue that he would have made had he been able to fully exercise his plans to convert The Federation Building and The Packard Building into apartment space. Alleging that Wolf Block’s conduct was “willful and/or wanton,” Greenfield is seeking punitives on top of the compensatory damages.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.