April 30, 2009
A complaint by an associate of a law firm that had claimed damages against individual partners based on allegedly false representations regarding his partnership prospects was reinstated by the New York Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department:
Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Bernard J. Fried, J.), entered August 1, 2008, which, to the extent appealed from as limited by the briefs, partially granted defendants' motion for summary judgment dismissing the complaint and denied plaintiff's motions for partial summary judgment and to strike defendant's motion, unanimously modified, on the law, to reinstate so much of the first cause of action as alleges that plaintiff was induced to remain an associate with defendant law firm by the individual defendants' materially false representations about the firm's partnership process, and otherwise affirmed, without costs.
Plaintiff's alleged reliance on the individual defendants' statements concerning the partnership process at the law firm and plaintiff's partnership prospects was not unreasonable as a matter of law. He was an associate with no experience in applying for partnership at the firm, the firm's partnership process was confidential, and defendants, as partners, were privy to information about the past practices of the firm's Executive Committee.
As to damages, if plaintiff proves his claims, he will be entitled to the difference between the immediately payable portion of the other firm's offer, such as the signing bonus, and the sum he received from defendant law firm immediately after agreeing to remain with defendant. His damages may not include any amount based on continued employment with the other firm, since the duration and success of his career with that firm are speculative.
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