A trial date has been set for two midsize Pennsylvania law firms that have been battling over alleged partner poaching for more than five years.
Swartz Campbell and Chartwell Law Offices are set to try the case beginning Feb. 28 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The trial is expected to last 10 days before an eight-person jury.
Both parties have recently filed a number of motions in limine in the case. Issues that remain to be resolved before trial include Swartz Campbell’s bid to block several witnesses from testifying on Chartwell’s behalf, including a number of lawyers who previously worked at Swartz Campbell.
Swartz Campbell’s 2012 lawsuit alleged that Chartwell hired lawyers away from Swartz Campbell in order to start an office in Fort Myers, Florida, and that the lawyers violated their limited liability company agreement with Swartz Campbell in order to make the move. Since then, the firm’s allegations have expanded to involve other lawyers.
Beginning in 2010, Swartz Campbell has alleged, Chartwell interfered with Swartz Campbell’s partners and employees.
Chartwell hired partner James Myers and then-associate Jessica Teitelbaum away from Swartz Campbell in 2012. The two had been Swartz Campbell’s only Fort Myers lawyers, so the firm closed the office after their lateral move. The complaint said Myers violated his former firm’s limited liability company agreement by becoming affiliated with Chartwell and helping Chartwell take over the Fort Myers office before he officially withdrew from Swartz Campbell.
Motions now pending before the court include Chartwell’s motion in limine to preclude Swartz Campbell from presenting testimony or documents unrelated to conduct by Myers, Teitelbaum or Thomas Reilly, who joined Chartwell’s Philadelphia office in 2011 from Swartz Campbell. Chartwell has also asked to provide testimony from Anthony Alfieri, professor and founder of the Center for Ethics and Public Service at University of Miami School of Law, as an ethics expert.
Swartz Campbell has asked the court to preclude Alfieri’s testimony, as well as testimony by law firm consultant Bill Brennan.
Additionally, Swartz Campbell filed a motion in limine asking the court to preclude testimony by over a dozen witnesses.
Those witnesses include former Swartz Campbell lawyers: David Henry and John Ziegler of Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin; James Haggerty of Haggerty, Goldberg, Schleifer & Kupersmith; Margolis Edelstein’s Ronald Reitz and Daniel Taylor; Gaul & Associates’ Robert Smolen; and Jonathan Deisher of William J. Ferren & Associates. Swartz Campbell’s former human resources director, Kate Cummings-Judge, who is now at Fox Rothschild, is also named.
Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young chairman William Sasso and legal recruiter Kristy Glasser Schulman are listed in the motion as well.
The motion also seeks to block testimony by two lawyers who have worked for both Chartwell and Swartz Campbell: Jesse Endler, now of Rawle & Henderson; and Kristopher Kachline (presumably, as he is named in the motion as Christopher Kachline), a Swartz Campbell partner since August, who spent five years at Chartwell partner before that.
Swartz Campbell also seeks to preclude testimony from three current Swartz Campbell lawyers, two Chartwell lawyers and two Florida lawyers from other law firms.
Kenneth Dubrow of Chartwell, who is representing his firm, declined to comment for this story. Candidus Dougherty of Swartz Campbell is representing her firm. She did not respond to a call seeking comment Wednesday.
Chartwell’s growth in Florida has been the subject of multiple lawsuits. Those matters include a case in which Chartwell is suing Wadsworth Huott, a firm with five offices across Florida, over their failed 2015 merger. That case is pending in Miami-Dade County court.