We just got back from dinner with lawyer friends, where everyone mourned the apparent passing of Charney v. Sullivan & Cromwell. Earlier today, it seemed that this lawsuit — which has riveted legal gossip circles — was on the brink of settlement.
As we pointed out this afternoon, something was definitely going on in the case. Aaron Charney was no longer listed on the S&C website. He wasn’t returning our emails, and when we finally reached him by phone, the usually chatty plaintiff refused to speak to us. When we contacted Sullivan & Cromwell partner Theodore Rogers, he was also quite cagey.
In short, the parties were acting weird — very weird. We felt a great deal of tension in the air. Something was definitely not “normal” (to the extent that anything about this lawsuit could be called “normal”).
We suspected a settlement was in the works (and even asked you to vote in a reader poll about the amount). But it turns out that nothing could have been further from the truth.
Reports of this lawsuit’s death have been greatly exaggerated (largely by yours truly). The legal warfare between Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell, far from going away, is actually ESCALATING. WOW!!!
Check out the fantastic comments to our last post. Or read this concise summary, emailed to us by a reader:
Sullivan & Cromwell filed its own action against Charney [yesterday] — and it was started by an order to show cause seeking a preliminary injunction!!!!
The case is on for next Thursday, February 8, before Judge Bernard Fried.
I think this means the case is far from settling, if S&C started their own lawsuit. I will try to get my hands on the complaint.
Mr. Charney, S&C is playing hardball — and you’re the ball. Biglaw is about to get medieval on your ass.
You’re going to be bending over for Messrs. Sullivan and Cromwell. And this time around, they won’t ask nicely.
ATL readers: Please email us with any information, tips, or rumors about the litigation. We are ESPECIALLY interested in getting our hands on S&C’s moving papers, which apparently were filed yesterday (February 1).
Treat this post as the open thread for all things Charney-licious. We will add, update, and tinker with it throughout the weekend. Refresh your browser for the latest — and check out the comments, too.
Fasten your seatbelts, everyone. For fans of Biglaw gossip, it’s going to be a bumpy — but hopefully entertaining — little ride.
Update (12:58 AM): Hey, guess what? You don’t need to read all 60+ comments to our most recent Aaron Charney post.
We’ve prepared a handy little digest of these comments. It appears after the jump.
Here are some of the reader comments that struck us as most interesting:
1. THE CHARNEY-S&C LITIGATION: WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON???
“This is weird. The WebCivil Supreme – Case Search shows that S&C is the plaintiff. Is this a case of the court system getting something boffo or did S&C countersue in a separate proceeding?”
“Nope – no mistake – looks like S&C has filed its own action against Charney, and it was started on 2/1/07 by an order to show cause seeking a preliminary injunction!!!!”
“If you click on the part of the court database that says Motion 001, it shows that it is a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by plaintiff S&C. The case is on for next Thursday, 2/8, before Judge Bernard Fried. WOW!!!!!!”
“Just as i suspected… a motion for preliminary injunction & TRO [temporary restraining order] filed by S&C vs. charney. they may have been silent but they’ve been busy. Lat, get ahold of those moving papers… i bet they’re juicy.”
“OK, let’s try to guess what kind of a lawsuit S&C has brought. Here is my guess — libel and/or slander. Has Charney been writing and saying thigs about S&C outside of the official court papers? If so, I think S&C has sued him for defamation and has obtained a preliminary injunction against him. That would explain why Charney was unable to comment and sounded weird on the phone.”
“Oh no they didn’t!! OH NO they did NOT get a TRO!!! You mess w/ the bull, you get the horns i guess.”
“[I]it is either a defamation suit or breach of fiduciary duty or trade secrets case. And now this makes sense – no comment from him and his website is down. The judge signed a TRO. Wow. Wow. Wow.”
“A TRO would explain why (1) his website is gone, (2) he won’t talk for the first time in weeks, (3) Gallion & Spielvogel met the Garden City market at $75k (they have to gear up for Gina Gershon’s deposition), (4) the guy from LeGaL got fired, (5) those guys in Boston limited the subject of their press conference to 1970s haircuts, (6) the guy at the Pentagon who criticized S&C for doing pro bono for Gitmo “resigned”, (7) Vornado might lose the Office Equity battle. Those seven reasons.”
“The judge who (presumedly) signed the TRO, Bernard Fried, is super duper smart and is one of the most intelligent judges at 60 Centre Street. (Also he is married to EDNY Judge Nina Gershon). If he signed a TRO, he was right on the money.”
Note: At the current time, we don’t know for certain whether or not S&C succeeded in its efforts to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO). E.g., a TRO precluding Charney from commenting publicly on the case. This is just a possibility raised by several readers.
2. S&C V. CHARNEY: WHO WINS, WHO LOSES?
“You have to understand that S&C’s lawyer’s primary interest is making as much money off this as possible, even if it means extending poor Charney’s misery. A quick settlement is bad for him.”
“Ugly for Charney and S&C. Very profitable for S&C’s lawyer.”
“It is all bad for the firm. Bad for the Plaintiff and BAD for the legal profession.”
“S&C has all the leverage now. If this settles, it settles as a walkaway and Charney gets nothing unless LeGAL offers him a job. He’s not talking not because a settlement is imminent, but because he’s in a buttload of trouble.”
“[This is] like the whole Team Aniston/Team Jolie thing… TEAM AARON!”
Note: C’mon, guys — Zach Fasman and Paul Hastings aren’t the only winners here. What about Above the Law? We’re looking forward to following this litigation closely, especially during the juicy discovery phase, and racking up page views the whole time.
3. UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR ZACH FASMAN (S&C’S COUNSEL)
“[I]f S&C’s lawyer were to do the decent thing, he would settle and let Charney move on with his life. Realistically though I know he needs to bill time, and bring revenue into [Paul Hastings]. So he will likely drag this out and bill as much time to this case as possible. The defense lawyer is the only one who wins in these cases. S&C and Charney will lose no matter what happens.”
“S&C’s lawyer needs to not be an asshole about this. Offer Charney $500k (about 2 years salary) and end this. Sure he can bill $millions if he drags this out but it’s just not right to do that to Charney. Charney is just a naive soul who got caught in a mess. Similarly, Charney needs to drop it and accept. He needs to put aside any hope he had of $ millions and accept the settlement.”
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Aaron Charney and Sullivan & Cromwell (scroll down)