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Duane Morris logo Photo: J. Albert Diaz/ALM

A commercial fisherman has sued Duane Morris and former partner Zhaoyang “Paul” Li claiming that Li inserted himself as a partner in a seafood export business and cut the fisherman out of the deal.

Gerard “Jerry” Wetle, a commercial fisherman, boat owner and wholesaler now based in Oregon, claims in a complaint filed Monday in federal court in the Northern District of California that Li convinced him he didn’t need his own lawyer when setting up a business with a partner to catch squid and export them for sale in China. Wetle, who previously was based in Salinas, California, claims he fired his own lawyer upon Li’s advise. He further alleges that he signed on to a $2.6 million purchase agreement for a boat named “Pamela Rose” to benefit the export business, spent nearly six months in Mexico refitting it, and traveled to China to negotiate with vendors, only to be cut out of the export business.

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