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After a high-profile fight in the press last fall, Stamford, Conn., attorney Frode Jensen III and his former firm, Pillsbury Winthrop, appear ready to settle their differences in private. Jensen and Pillsbury filed a joint motion Feb. 19 in Stamford Superior Court, seeking to postpone until April 7 a hearing on Jensen’s request for a $19 million prejudgment lien against the law firm. “The parties have had preliminary settlement discussions and believe reasonable prospects for settlement exists through mediation,” the continuance request reads. “In that light, the parties believe a mediation will provide an optimal setting to fully resolve this matter.” The move, however, doesn’t mask Jensen’s claims, nor his pessimism that Pillsbury’s business future won’t leave it with enough funds to pay his damages. Jensen is a former Pillsbury Winthrop lawyer who was publicly smeared last September as he tried to move to Latham & Watkins’ New York office. Court documents show he expected to rake in more than $30 million in the next 14 years of his now-sidetracked career. That’s the picture from his request for a prejudgment remedy lien on Pillsbury funds, filed as part of his $40 million defamation action in Stamford Superior Court. And while Jensen anticipated an upward trajectory if he’d gone to work for Latham, the PJR request also outlines reasons for pessimism about Pillsbury’s future. According to the request, Jensen expected to earn $262,500 in the final three months of 2002. His partnership offer at Latham was withdrawn in the wake of a highly unusual Sept. 4 press release from Pillsbury managing partner Mary Cranston claiming that Jensen had been a target of sex harassment charges and had been largely absent and unproductive in the months leading up to his split from Pillsbury. That release, Jensen stated in an affidavit supporting the PJR, was issued because Pillsbury executives felt his move to Latham was “receiving ‘too much good play’ in the press.” In his complaint, Jensen has denied the harassment charge. The Latham job he was headed to, with a beginning draw level of $1,050,000, was structured as 700 partnership units worth $1,500 each. For his damages from 2003 through retirement at 65, the 52-year-old Jensen projects an average of 800 partnership units over a 14-year period, at $2,000 per unit. That amounts to $22.4 million. On top of that, he anticipated bonuses for exceptional performance and benefits, including his medical, life insurance, 401(k) and expense account perks to amount to a quarter of his cash compensation, or $5,665,625. Ten years of retirement benefits at $250,000 adds $2.5 million to the amount that Jensen seeks to secure with the PJR. The rough total of $30,828,125 is reduced to a present value of $21,579,687. That’s further reduced by calculating Jensen’s chances of finding a new job equivalent to his former $700,000 Pillsbury position. The formula assumes he has a 50-50 chance of obtaining new employment at that level. Thus, presuming mitigation, his loss amounts to 65 percent of the total economic loss of $21.5 million, or just over $14 million. To that Jensen adds general defamation damages of $5 million, to seek a PJR of $19 million. Newington, Conn., actuary Sheldon Wishnick, who is not working for either side in the Jensen case, said some aspects of the projections are highly accurate and others are speculative. Most recently, Wishnick was an expert witness for the plaintiff in the suit against Leona Helmsley for wrongfully terminating a hotel manager, which led to an $11 million jury verdict in Manhattan. Wishnick calculated that the present value of projected income is accurately estimated, except for retirement pay, which should have a lower present value due to the fact it stretches out not just 14 years, but to 24. Assuming a 50-50 chance of re-employment is “very weird” without supporting data, Wishnick said, and the $5 million damage estimate for defamation is speculative. PILLSBURY’S DOUGH Jensen’s Jan. 8 affidavit explains he has concerns about Pillsbury’s “ongoing capacity to satisfy a judgment in my favor” based on recent economic developments. Last December, he alleges, Pillsbury offered to buy out 12 employees in Palo Alto, Calif., New York and Stamford; bought out 15 staffers; and laid off another 10 in New York and San Francisco, while simultaneously imposing a salary freeze on some workers. Last August, Pillsbury let go two corporate partners and associates from its northern Virginia office, he claims. Furthermore, in November 2001, Pillsbury laid off 20 associates in New York and Palo Alto, Jensen asserts. In California, Pillsbury spokeswoman Crystal Rockwood said the firm is familiar with Jensen’s filings, but declined to counter the allegations specifically. “He’s entitled to his opinions,” Rockwood said, “We just don’t agree with them.”

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