“Discovery is going to be FUN in this case.” That’s what we previously predicted about Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi, the high-profile lawsuit filed by plaintiff Alexandra Marchuk against her former firm and one of its most prominent partners, Juan Monteverde.
Why did we expect fireworks from discovery? Because of the lurid nature of Marchuk’s allegations, including severe sexual harassment and (effectively) sexual assault, and because of the Faruqi firm’s aggressive response, which included suing Marchuk for defamation and claiming that it was Marchuk who was obsessed with Monteverde.
But it wasn’t just another “he said, she said” type of situation. Both sides claimed that third-party witnesses and contemporaneous documents would corroborate their respective and conflicting accounts.
Discovery is now underway in the case. Witnesses have been deposed, and documents have been produced. What kind of portrait do they paint?
The defendants have moved for partial summary judgment. Marchuk’s opposition to the motion, reprinted in full on the next page, contains some interesting tidbits from discovery thus far. For example, it contains a fair amount of discussion about Juan Monteverde’s reputation around the office (citations omitted):
“I mean I guess the phrase I use is, he has no boundaries,” a former F&F partner acknowledges.
“Q. Would his knowing no boundaries also include talking about things of a sexual nature? A. Well , I mean, what comes to mind is the BJ stuff.”
He constantly engages in loud and inappropriate sexual conversation that is uninvited by those around him.
“[H]e would volunteer this information . . . . I never exchanged comparable anecdotes . . . I never asked him about his sexual experiences. Q. Would you say that he offered those comments to you in an unsolicited manner? A. Yes.”
“Q. Did you and Mr. Monteverde have a sufficiently close relationship that you felt that he was confiding things in you that he might not be confiding in other employees at Faruqi & Faruqi? A. No.”
An active litigation involving BJ’s Wholesale, Inc. was irresistible fodder:
“Q. To the best of your knowledge , did Mr. Monteverde make a joke about blow jobs every time the subject of BJ’s Wholesale came up? A. Yes.”
And allegations that he harassed women other than Marchuk:
Mr. Monteverde propositioned at least one other female associate at F&F at the same time he harassed Ms. Marchuk:
Q. And what did he say or do that you deemed inappropriate?
A. He asked me would I date a married man . . .
Q. And when he asked you that, did you understand that he was referring to himself?
A. At that time – at that time, yes, I did feel uncomfortable that he was talking about himself.
Mr. Monteverde also advised the associate that she should have sex with another F&F attorney. “Q. And what did Mr. Monteverde say about you and Frank McConville? A. Well, from what I recall at the time, it was something along the lines of that we should just screw and get it over with.”
Another female associate was shocked when Mr. Monteverde used a graphic hand gesture towards her at a bar after a court appearance. “I had just started. And he made a hand gesture in front of me that I understood to mean – to signify two fingers in the vagina, one finger in the anus.”
Soon thereafter, this associate resigned, complaining in writing to the Faruqis that, “[s]ince joining the firm, on a near daily basis, I have been harassed by Juan . . . [O]n multiple occasions, Juan has made crude and/or sexually charged comments with which I am uncomfortable.”
And claims that male employees of Faruqi & Faruqi didn’t want Monteverde to meet their significant others:
He is notorious within F&F, moreover, for making inappropriate sexual advances towards the wives and girlfriends of other F&F employees, so much so that an F&F associate made sure that his girlfriend never met Mr. Monteverde:
A. I recall not wanting Florence to meet Juan.
Q. And why was that?
A. Because I was concerned that he would act inappropriately , okay, and I didn’t want to complicate our working relationship . . . I had heard rumors that Juan had made inappropriate sexual comments about other employee ‘s significant others.
Some of this alleged conduct, according to Marchuk, is fueled by Monteverde’s (prodigious) alcohol consumption:
On one trip to Vermont, he consumed approximately 12 drinks on a bender the night before a hearing. Mr. Monteverde did not deny that it happened, but chalked it up to a stingy New England pour: “I don’t remember 12. I remember they were small, not New York size.”
Consuming a dozen drinks, regardless of size, is impressive. Who does he think he is — a college student?
Mr. Faruqi, who acknowledged that he had visited strip clubs with Mr. Monteverde, made Mr. Monteverde’s inappropriate conduct the subject of a running joke in the office. One associate recalled “on multiple occasions Juan being in some public space in the office and making some sort of joke of a sexual nature and in response Nadeem [Faruqi] would say ‘Juan, handbook’ in a joking manner. And then Juan would generally peal with laughter afterwards.”
Strip clubs: they’re not just for Biglaw partners. Small-firm lawyers like the ladies too.
In prior coverage, we’ve noted Alexandra Marchuk’s claim that she complained about Juan Monteverde to another Faruqi partner, Emily Komlossy (who has since left the firm). Here is what Komlossy apparently emailed to Nadeem Faruqi after a conversation she had with Marchuk:
On Friday September 16, I invited Alexandra to join me for dinner at Rossini’s. We were generally chatting about work and my experience as a young lawyer. Alexandra 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 join him on his boat.
She then proceeded to get teary and did not want it to be disclosed, saying that she wanted to continue working with Juan but that she was apprehensive about going to Delaware with him the following Tuesday because she knew he would get drunk and was afraid of what might happen. As she continued to be teary and upset for the next several hours, we stayed at the restaurant until midnight. I walked her part way to Grand Central and told her that I wanted to know what, if anything, happened on Tuesday.
(It does seem odd that Marchuk said “she wanted to continue working with Juan.” I suppose that’s one fact in Monteverde’s favor in all of this. Cf. Anita Hill following Clarence Thomas to a new workplace after alleged sexual harassment.)
Marchuk also mentioned the situation at work to her mother, who testified as follows:
Q. Any other alleged remarks or incidents concerning harassment that [your daughter] told you about?
A. One weekend she was home and we went clothes shopping. We went to Brooks Brothers. While she was trying on clothes, I brought in a skirt. It had a kick pleat in the back of it.
Q. Forgive me. I don’t know what a kick pleat is.
A. It’s a split.
Q. Oh, at the bottom of the skirt in the back?
A. Yes. She said she couldn’t wear something like that into the office because it would set Juan up all day long.
Ms. Marchuk also avoided wearing bright nail polish that might attract unwanted attention from Mr. Monteverde:
A. The same thing with fingernail polish. She was home, we went to get our nails done. She picked clear. I said “why don’t you pick a color?” And she said “not in the office.”
Q. Did she tell you “why not in the office?”
Q. What did she say?
A. She said Juan would think it was something to talk about all day.
These are just highlights from the Marchuk memorandum. Many more appear in the full document, which you can access by flipping to the next page.
In our Lawyer of the Year contest for 2013, Juan Monteverde didn’t fare that well, receiving a mere 4 percent of the vote. But depending on what happens in Marchuk v. Faruqi & Faruqi — further discovery, perhaps a trial — don’t count him out for 2014.