Alexandra Marchuk’s high-profile discrimination lawsuit, Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi, continues to escalate. She filed her initial complaint against F&F and partner Juan Monteverde in March of this year, the firm fired back with counterclaims in April, and Marchuk amended her complaint later that month.
Last week, Marchuk filed a second amended complaint in the case. It contains some juicy new allegations, including some that refer to what discovery has supposedly unearthed so far….
For purposes of this story, we’re assuming familiarity with prior complaints in this case. We’re just going to focus on the new material — like this bombshell from paragraph two (emphases in original):
[T]he foundational and stabbing allegation in Defendants’ $15 million counterclaims against Ms. Marchuk — that Ms. Marchuk used Gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org (the “Gmail Account”) to maliciously distribute her Complaint to the media, F&F’s clients, opposing counsel in F&F’s case, and even to [F&F partner Juan] Monteverde’s wife — is a blatant lie. On June 14, 2013, Google responded to Defendants’ subpoena with the bombshell disclosure that the Gmail Account was created on March 13, 2013, the day this case was initiated, from the IP address of F&F’s Manhattan office. Therefore, either in an attempt to frame Ms. Marchuk for the allegations that Defendants then put in their counterclaims against her, or in a case of dysfunctional, intra-firm back-stabbing, someone at F&F created the Gmail Account on the day the Complaint was filed and emailed it to Mr. Monteverde’s wife and, supposedly, others. (As of the date hereof, Defendants have still failed to produce any documents or information concerning who, other than Mr. Monteverde’s wife, allegedly received an email from email@example.com.) Confirming their disregard for ethical obligations to this Court, Defendants, who never had any good-faith basis for smearing Ms. Marchuk in the first place, still pursue their counterclaims, over two months after receiving Google’s knockout disclosure.
We’ve written in prior posts about how both sides claim third parties will support their competing versions of events. According to paragraph three of the second amended complaint, Marchuk has already found one such witness, an “associate who, having commenced employment at F&F the month after Ms. Marchuk left, quit three months later, complaining to the Faruqis in writing that ‘in my presence, on multiple occasions, [Mr. Monteverde] made crude and/or sexually charged comments with which I am uncomfortable.'”
Paragraph four — a lot of the new material is front-loaded — alleges both spoliation and manufacturing of evidence:
Shortly after Ms. Marchuk’s counsel wrote their pre-litigation demand letter, Defendants ripped out and discarded the carpet in Mr. Monteverde’s office, knowing that it contained important forensic evidence of Mr. Monteverde’s assault on Ms. Marchuk. Seeking to discredit Ms. Marchuk’s claim that Mr. Monteverde held sway over her compensation, Defendants amateurishly manufactured a letter purporting to inform Ms. Marchuk that she was ineligible for a bonus until 2012. When asked to produce the .doc file containing the metadata that would show when this letter was created, Defendants implausibly claimed that all such information had been destroyed by a “hard drive failure.”
This next allegation, still in paragraph four, is embarrassing to the Faruqi firm if true:
Finally, Defendants trotted out an obviously coached witness who just happened to vividly recall Ms. Marchuk’s supposedly lighthearted demeanor when she complained about Mr. Monteverde. In reality, this witness turned out to be the named class representative in a case recently filed in federal court by F&F and Mr. Monteverde, although the witness either completely forgot that case or never really hired F&F, because the witness [when deposed] unequivocally denied any knowledge of that case. True to form, Defendants have brazenly refused to produce any documentary evidence that this witness ever retained Mr. Monteverde or F&F.
If you’re going to coach witnesses, you should do it more skillfully, no? I’d expect better from such a prominent plaintiffs’ firm.
Deeper into the complaint, Marchuk’s lawyers, Harry Lipman and Thomas Chase, allude to some of their evidence. In paragraph 39, they cite an internal memo by Emily Komlossy, a former Faruqi partner to whom Alexandra Marchuk complained about Juan Monteverde’s alleged sexual harassment. From Komlossy’s memo to name partner Nadeem Faruqi:
[Ms. Marchuk] proceeded to disclose to me that she had gone out with Juan Monteverde for drinks one night soon after she joined, at the conclusion of which she claimed that he had kissed her and grabbed her breast. Alexandra also indicated that since then, Juan had invited her to joih him on his boat . . . she was apprehensive about going to Delaware with [Monteverde] the following Tuesday because she knew he would get drunk and was afraid of what may happen . . . she continued to be teary and upset for the next several hours.
The next paragraph shares “[c]ontemporaneous communications between Ms. Marchuk and her friends” about the alleged harassment. This sounds like a Gchat session (so even if Gchat feels less formal than “real” email, keep in mind that it’s still tracked by default):
Marchuk: yep/ who kissed me
Friend: omg/ did you tell her that?
Marchuk: yea/ I wouldnt have except i was drunk/ and he had told her that i flirted with him/ im pretty sure she told him off this weekend/ because he didnt say a single offensive thing to me today/ he always says stuff about spanking/sucking etc./ today/ nada
Friend: wow/ so… is that …. better?
Marchuk: haha/ i dont know/ ive been trying not to think about it/ if everything goes well , i think i can make a good living from this firm/ but if i make a big deal about anything that wont happen/ i just need to find a nice middle line/ where im not being harassed but not the big wet blanket either
Friend: yeah … you’re waaaaaay on the harassed side of that line right now though
This exchange captures the challenges that women often face in the workplace. According to the picture painted in the complaint, the debt-saddled Marchuk just wanted to “make a good living from this firm,” but struggled under sexual harassment. She wanted the harassment to stop, but realized that “mak[ing] a big deal about anything” could jeopardize her job.
In paragraph 43, we hear more about the associate mentioned in paragraph three who allegedly resigned after also being harassed by Juan Monteverde:
The associate attorney who started at, and resigned from, F&F shortly after Ms. Marchuk quit, has testified in this case that Mr. Monteverde once remarked in her presence that his wife “doesn’t have sex with him before court hearings because she likes him to have pent-up aggression.”
It sounds like discovery is proving quite productive for Alexandra Marchuk and her attorneys.
In fairness to the Faruqi firm and to Juan Monteverde, we don’t know what gems they’ve unearthed in discovery to support their version of events. But we’re sure we’ll find out before too long. (We did reach out to the firm’s PR representative at Rubinstein Associates but haven’t heard back yet; we’ll update this post if and when we do.)
UPDATE (2:38 p.m.): Faruqi’s spokesperson advises us that the firm’s lawyers — Ronald Green, Barry Asen, and Victoria Sloan, of Epstein Becker & Green — will be filing a response in court to the latest complaint very soon.
UPDATE (4:57 p.m.): Here is Faruqi’s answer to the second amended complaint. We may have more on this later.
UPDATE (8/21/2013, 2 p.m.): Here is our post about the F&F answer.
Flip to the next page to read the second amended complaint in its entirety, at your leisure. There’s no rush; this case will be around for quite some time….