(J. Albert Diaz/ALM)
Shortly after a Manhattan judge gutted a former hedge fund manager’s potential damages against Greenberg Traurig, the judge has stayed the upcoming trial to allow for an appeal.
The 2007 case is now on at least its third appeal, promising to prolong a legal battle that has spawned unwelcome headlines for the firm for a decade. Greenberg Traurig appealed twice before to the Appellate Division, First Department.
James Melcher, 77, was seeking about $16.5 million in damages from a Section 487 attorney deceit claim against Greenberg and its former shareholder, Leslie Corwin. Melcher claims Greenberg and Corwin helped their client deceive the court after the client claimed he accidentally burned a critical document while making tea.
Last month Manhattan Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood cut the total amount of claimed damages to a fraction of the millions Melcher was seeking. Melcher then sought an immediate stay of the trial, scheduled Nov. 27, pending an appeal or a motion for reargument.
Sherwood issued another decision last week based on Melcher’s reargument motion. The judge continued to call Melcher’s argument “speculative,” but he granted the request for a stay and adjournment of the trial, on the condition the appeal is perfected by Oct. 2.
Melcher on Thursday filed a notice of appeal, writing in a pre-argument statement that the court erred in precluding him from presenting his damage claims to the jury.
“The question of damages is quintessentially a jury question,” wrote Melcher’s attorney, Jeffrey Jannuzzo.
Jannuzzo said in a brief interview that he is hoping oral argument in the case can be in December or January.
With that timing, any decision by the appellate court would likely occur in early 2018.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Thomas Rice, who represents Greenberg Traurig and Corwin, now a Blank Rome partner, did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.