In a lawsuit filed Monday, Boies, Schiller & Flexner is defending itself against allegations of fraud contained in a suit filed Monday by a sole practitioner who claims the firm deceived his clients into signing over their representation and initiated claims on his clients’ behalf without their knowledge.
Paul Wolf filed his in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Boies Schiller along with 98 other anonymous plaintiffs who are Colombian nationals. According to the complaint, Wolf—who practices in Washington and Colorado in the United States, as well as in Colombia—has represented his co-plaintiffs in wrongful death and other cases against Chiquita Brands International over the company’s alleged support of “paramilitary and guerrilla violence” in South American nation.
Wolf claims Boies Schiller, through a Colombian firm, convinced dozens of his clients into signing over their power of representation by convincing them that they were signing a document to apply for benefits or telling the clients that they were associated with Wolf. Other clients said they never signed anything that would have turned over their power of representation to other lawyers, Wolf alleged.
“Not a single Doe Plaintiff said that she had even intended to change attorneys,” Wolf wrote in his complaint. “They either believed Defendant’s agents were Paul Wolf’s employees, or that he had lost or given up on the case, which was not true.”
Wolf alleges that Boies Schiller filed duplicate claims on behalf of his clients, and published their names against their wishes. He also claims that other lawyers involved in litigation against Chiquita asked him not to sue Boies Schiller, for fear it would disrupt the underlying proceedings.
Wolf and his co-plaintiffs are suing for fraud, tortious interference with contractual relations, legal malpractice, negligence, invasion of privacy, and anti-competitive practices. Wolf is accusing Boies Schiller of conspiring with other lawyers who have claims against Chiquita to convince his clients to sign retainer agreements that would bar them from filing other claims outside of pending multi-district litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Nicholas Gravante Jr., Boies Schiller’s general counsel, said in a statement that the lawsuit is “utterly lacking merit.”
“A contract attorney at a law firm not even involved in the MDL proceedings against Chiquta filed this complaint after Boies, Schiller & Flexner declined his requests for substantial and improper payments and importantly, after the MDL plaintiffs group comprised of a number of reputable law firms excluded him from the group for uncooperative and inappropriate behavior,” Gravante said.
Wolf could not immediately be reached for comment.
The case has yet to be assigned to a judge. The court has been closed since Monday because of Hurricane Sandy, meaning new cases haven’t been fully processed.