Second Circuit Affirms Partner Randy Rasey and Barton Team’s Trial Win

Nov 6, 2019 | Firm News

Meltzer, Lippe, Goldstein & Breitstone, LLP v. James Malfett dba Management Recruiters of Union County, NJ, US District Court Eastern District of New York: Led by partner Randy L. Rasey, Barton’s  trial team secured judgment for 100% of the damages claimed by client Management Recruiters of Union County (“MR”) against Melzer Lippe which had engaged it to recruit and place attorneys with the firm.

Meltzer Lippe asked MR to find and place a health care law practice group, and MR found and introduced a group of attorneys from a New Jersey-based health care law boutique firm. But rather than hire the group’s attorneys directly, Meltzer Lippe had one of its New Jersey-admitted partners purchase the shares of their boutique firm (a New Jersey professional corporation) which then continued to operate as an affiliate of Meltzer Lippe. Meltzer Lippe firm refused to pay MR its placement fee, asserting that its acquisition of the practice group was a “business purchase” outside the scope of its contract with MR for attorney placements.

Meltzer Lippe brought a declaratory judgment action in state court seeking judgment that it owed MR nothing for the transaction. MR engaged Barton to represent it in the action and to recover its placement fee. Barton removed the case to federal court in the Eastern District of New York and asserted counterclaims on behalf of MR to recover its placement fee. Randy tried the case in a three-day bench trial before Judge Wexler, who unfortunately passed away before deciding the case. After Judge Wexler’s passing, the case was transferred to Judge Hurley who decided the case based on Judge Wexler’s trial record. In Judge Hurley’s written decision, he found that Randy and the Barton team had successfully proved that Meltzer Lippe’s acquisition of the attorneys introduced by Barton’s client was an attorney placement under the parties’ contract, and that Meltzer Lippe was required to pay the full contractual placement fee, rendering judgment for Barton’s client for more than $500,000 –the full measure of damages sought with prejudgment interest.

Randy and team went on to defend Judge Hurley’s decision before the Second Circuit after Meltzer Lippe appealed the judgment. The Second Circuit affirmed the trial court’s decision and judgment, resulting in a full and complete victory.