Clifford Chance, like any other inhabitant of Manhattan, knows the occasional pain of residing in the city.
For more than 60 hours last August, the U.K. firm’s office on W. 52nd Street lost connection to its business network. The culprit, Clifford Chance claims in a lawsuit against the city, is construction work at a crosswalk. It’s asking for $127,500 in alleged damages to make up for its lost productivity during the network outage.
“We are tremendously disappointed to have had our work disrupted and livelihood threatened by the [Department of Transportation] without warning, apology, much less compensation,” complained James Paul, a New York partner and general counsel at the Magic Circle firm.
City officials are expected to respond to the lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court next month, according to Jan. 19 court papers.
In a letter filed with the court, Paul said the firm’s network connection to its data center was interrupted last August due to transportation department work on 53rd Street.
Writing to Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, Paul said the transportation department accidently cut the internet conduit while digging at a crosswalk, resulting in a network disruption of 63 hours that caused “tremendous inconvenience and lost productivity.”
“While we understand some disruption in service is unavoidable when maintaining New York City’s infrastructure, we are deeply concerned with the apparent lack of accountability at DOT for the interruption,” Paul said, noting that, had it not been for the firm’s existing business interruption coverage, “which we incurred at significant expense,” working during the outage would have been impossible.
“Our productivity was significantly curtailed,” while the firm’s nonlawyer staff had to work many hours over a weekend and in the evenings to ensure the firm could open for business on a following Monday, Paul wrote.
Paul added the firm was not contacted by the transportation department or anyone from the city about the disruption and it only confirmed through its landlord that the department’s work was the cause.
Clifford Chance has long maintained a New York City office and its lawyers and staff “reside (and pay taxes) here,” Paul said.
Paul noted the firm’s New York office has 193 lawyers and 170 staff who are part of the global firm’s overall headcount of 3,300 lawyers and 2,767 staff.
A spokesman for Stringer’s office could not immediately comment. Paul declined to comment on the firm’s lost productivity or the suit.