A Commercial Division judge sitting in Westchester County has dismissed all claims by a “bitter and disappointed” former partner of a private equity firm who argued his former employer owed him more than $10 million in damages.
Represented by attorneys from Kasowitz Benson Torres, the Briarcliff Manor-based Saw Mill Capital fended off allegations of breach of contract and unjust enrichment by John Shaia, a former partner at the firm who was terminated in 2011 and claims that the firm violated an oral compensation agreement to provide him with one-on-one leverage and pay him a certain percentage of carried interest on profits earned by the firm’s main fund.
In a decision signed Aug. 25, Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Alan Scheinkman of the Commercial Division, who held a bench trial in the case in April, said there were credibility problems with Shaia’s testimony on key points in the case.
Specifically, Scheinkman said, Shaia argued that he was entitled to certain benefits because of his “partner” status, but the judge said the title was “simply a name change for marketing purposes.”
Additionally, the judge said, Shaia, out of concern for making a $400,000 investment into two fund vehicles, hatched a plan to “avoid signing as many documents as possible” so that he could be in a position to demand his money back if the investments didn’t pan out.
Kasowitz partner Mark Lerner and associates Joshua Fulop and Melissa Barahona appeared for the defendants.
“It is especially gratifying that this result was reached after a full trial in which all parties were heard,” said Lerner in a statement forwarded by a spokesman.
Shaia was represented by Alexandria, Virginia-based attorney Joseph Manson III and Baker & Hostetler attorneys Brian Allen and John Carney.
Reached by phone, Manson said his client is considering an appeal of the decision.