A Pittsburgh IP lawyer was the subject of a temporary protection from abuse order filed in Allegheny County earlier this year by a paralegal he worked with at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, court records show.
The order against John Thomas III was entered in February, when he was a partner at Vorys. He has since joined the Webb Law Firm.
Thomas was a name partner at Beck & Thomas in Pittsburgh, an IP boutique that merged with Vorys in April 2018. The merger, which was listed as one of The Legal Intelligencer’s Top Lateral Hires of 2018, included three partners, four of counsel, one associate and two contract lawyers, as well as a patent agent, two legal secretaries and a paralegal.
The paralegal is Antonelle Piccirilli, age 23, who filed for the PFA order in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Family Division. According to Vorys managing partner Michael Martz, Piccirilli has resigned from the firm to pursue other opportunities.
The order, entered Feb. 19, includes a provision that precludes Thomas from contacting Piccirilli, or from being at her home or place of employment.
Thomas was also ordered to relinquish all firearms or other weapons and ammunition, the court order says. Judge Susan Evashavik DiLucente is handling the case, the court docket shows.
Efforts to reach Piccirilli for comment were unsuccessful and the docket did not list an attorney for her.
Thomas, reached June 7 at the Webb Law Firm, would not say whether the PFA order precipitated his departure from Vorys, nor would he provide any details about what led to the PFA order.
“I don’t really want to comment on that,” Thomas said of the PFA order. ”The matter is resolved. It’s been withdrawn and dismissed.”
The most recent entry on the court docket is from May 3, reflecting an order dated April 11 in which Evashavik DiLucente continued the case until May 7.
A follow-up email to Thomas on Monday seeking additional information on the status of the case was returned by Lourdes Sánchez Ridge of Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti in Pittsburgh, who identified herself as representing Thomas.
Ridge said in the email: “This matter has been resolved. The PFA was withdrawn, dismissed and vacated. There is no story.”
Ridge also said there would be no further comment.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the docket had been sealed by court order, according to the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas website.
According to Ridge, Piccirilli is being represented by Sabrina Korbel of the Women’s Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. A call to Korbel seeking comment Monday was not returned.
Vorys managing partner Martz said Thomas resigned from the firm in February, but declined to comment further when asked whether Thomas’ move was related to the PFA order.
Pittsburgh office managing partner Keith Zabela did not return calls for comment June 7.
Thomas is now listed as of counsel at The Webb Law Firm in Pittsburgh. So is Richard Ting, who had been part of the Beck & Thomas group that joined Vorys. Both Thomas and Ting, however, said their moves to the Webb Law Firm were not connected.
Reached June 7, Ting said, “John left Vorys before I did but I joined Webb before he did.” He declined to comment on whether he and Thomas work together on any matters at the Webb Law Firm.
Ting also said that, before he left Vorys, he was aware of the PFA order against Thomas. Asked whether that was what motivated him to leave, Ting replied, “No, not directly.”
“A lot of things transpired and I was just kind of looking for a fresh start somewhere. Let’s just say a lot of unexpected things,” Ting said, declining to elaborate.
Kent Baldauf Sr., director and chairman of the Webb Law Firm, did not return a call June 7 requesting comment on Thomas’ hiring.
Piccirilli was a paralegal at Beck & Thomas beginning in October 2015 and became part of Vorys once the firms merged, according to her LinkedIn profile. She is a 2015 graduate of the Bradford School, where she got an associate’s degree in paralegal studies, her profile says.
Based on Vorys’ website, five of the eight non-contract Beck & Thomas attorneys that joined Vorys through the merger have since left. It was not clear June 7 whether the two contract lawyers were still working for Vorys.
Thomas said he was only aware of two former Beck & Thomas lawyers who departed Vorys before him and said that each one left for a different reason.
Asked whether his own departure from Vorys was the result of an issue related to the business of law, Thomas replied, “I have no issues, hard feelings or any of that. I think Vorys is a great firm.”