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The arbitration process is supposed to make short order of endless, messy litigation. But if Positive Software Solutions, et al. v. Susman Godfrey, et al. stands for anything, it’s that a dispute can become endless and messy precisely because of arbitration.

In Susman, filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas in Dallas, Positive Software and its Chief Executive Officer Edward Mandel allege that the defendants — Susman Godfrey; firm partners Barry C. Barnett and Ophelia F. Camina of Dallas; Frank Nese, a senior manager at New Century; Jeff Lemieux, the CEO of a New Century-associated entity; and John Norment, New Century’s chief technology officer for its retail division — engaged in fraud and civil conspiracy by knowingly withholding evidence and offering false testimony during a 2004 arbitration hearing and before the district court over a dispute between New Century and Positive Software concerning the ownership of proprietary software. The plaintiffs also bring a copyright infringement action.

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