The Court of Appeals has declined to hear arguments from a former Allen & Overy attorney over the dismissal of her lawsuit against the firm that alleged she was fired for sleeping with a former partner.
The decision lets stand a 2016 ruling from Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Freed that dismissed the lawsuit—which sought $35 million—filed by Deidre Holmes Clark, a former senior attorney with the firm.
Clark alleged in a 2011 lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court that she was fired from Allen & Overy after she had sex with Tony Humphrey, formerly a partner based in the firm’s Moscow office. She also claimed in the lawsuit that Allen & Overy had used a series of sexualized writings she self-published on the internet as a pretext for her termination.
Clark represented herself in the lawsuit and also on appeal. She could not be reached for comment on the Court of Appeals decision Thursday.
The Court of Appeals generally does not explain why it declines to hear an appeal. The same was true for Thursday’s decision, in which the court said it would not hear arguments in the case.
Rachel Fischer, an associate at Proskauer Rose, represented Allen & Overy in the lawsuit. She declined to comment on the decision when reached by phone on Thursday.
A spokesman for Allen & Overy did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
Clark’s own actions may have been her lawsuit’s undoing in this case, according to the Appellate Division, First Department, 2018 decision that the Court of Appeals declined to review.
Clark’s lawsuit against Allen & Overy included allegations of sexual harassment, retaliatory discharge and intentional infliction of emotional distress. According to a 2015 First Department’s decision dealing with medical issues in the case, Clark claimed the firm’s actions caused her severe anxiety and mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts.
The First Department said in 2015 that Clark testified at her deposition that “her emotional distress has included experiencing eczema all over her body, hair pulling, anxiety, depression and suicidal feelings.”
Attorneys for Allen & Overy moved at the time to require Clark to undergo an independent medical examination to rebut her claims of emotional distress. The court granted that motion and ordered Clark to sit for the exam. Clark appealed the court order, but the motion was upheld by the First Department.
Despite the order, Clark initially refused to sit for the exam. She was warned in September 2015 that if she did not undergo the exam, she could face sanctions, including the dismissal of her complaint against Allen & Overy.
She showed up to the examiner’s office two months later, but, again, refused the conditions of the exam, according to the decision from the First Department in March 2018.
“She refused to take the microphone to be audiotaped, and she informed the examiner that she would go to the police and charge him with false imprisonment and assault if he proceeded with the examination without her consent,” the court’s decision said. “The examiner stopped the examination.”
Attorneys for Allen & Overy were then granted a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in August 2016.
Clark was also ordered to pay $5,000 to the Lawyers’ Fund for Client Protection after she posted about the case on social media, despite sealing orders from the court. The First Department said her social media posts were intended to “harass or maliciously injure” Allen & Overy, despite the ongoing litigation.
Clark is separately suing Allen & Overy over claims that the firm illegally hacked into her email account and stole messages sent to her friends and a former lover about her personal life, including sexual relationships. Clark said in her complaint that the firm used those emails to support their case for her to undergo the psychological exam as part of the previous lawsuit.
Allen & Overy, still represented by Proskauer, has moved to dismiss the lawsuit, but a decision on that motion has not been filed. In a brief filed late last year, attorneys for Allen & Overy denied Clark’s claims and said the statute of limitations had already passed.
That case is also being handled by Freed.
Clark sent a letter to Freed in June asking her to recuse herself from the case. Clark said, according to the letter, that Freed had reported her to one of the state’s Grievance Committees, which are able to discipline attorneys for misconduct. Clark said in her letter that she wants a different justice because of the complaint, which was sent earlier in June.
“Frankly, I am surprised that you did not immediately recuse yourself under these outrageous circumstances,” Clark wrote.
The proceedings of the state’s Grievance Committees are not public, but as an attorney Clark is obliged to comply with committee investigations.