Law Firm Crack

As reported in the New York Law Journal and the New York Post, the 9/11 law firm of Napoli Bern “is facing implosion and a court-appointed receiver has been designated to oversee firm finances”.  According to New York Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten:

“Right now this firm [Napoli Bern] is in a state of total crisis” and “It is on the verge of going into free fall to complete disaster” and “the depth of hatred in this instance is extraordinary”.  

According to the Law Journal, this is because of a brutal breach of contract suit between managing partners Paul Napoli and Marc Bern, among other pending lawsuits against the law firm.  Justice Bransten has appointed former Supreme Court Justice Ira Warshawsky, an attorney of impeccable integrity, as “receiver” to oversee all firm assets and finances pending the conclusion of the multiple lawsuits and firm infighting. A receiver is an:

Independent, impartial party appointed by a court to receive, manage, and preserve (1) a disputed property which is the subject matter of a court case, pending final disposition of the lawsuit, or (2) an endangered property for the benefit of those [clients] who are entitled to it.

The Napoli Bern crisis is an extremely sad circumstance which unfortunately could have a substantial impact on the current claims of 9/11 victims the firm represents before the federal Victim Compensation Fund.

So what will happen to all the current Napoli Bern clients with pending claims before the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund?  Unfortunately, my prediction is that many will flee to other 9/11 lawyers in droves.

When a law firm is perceived to be in free fall, many of the law firm’s attorneys abandon ship for more secure positions at other law firms.  The law firm in “crisis” then has significant trouble recruiting new lawyers to replace the abandoning lawyers. When this happens, the law firm in crisis cannot keep up with the legal work required by current client cases and this leads to the “implosion” predicted by the Law Journal. Let us hope the the receiver, Judge Warshawsky, can quickly stabilize the law firm so that client’s are protected.

John Feal, the head of the non-profit 9/11 Victim and First Responders Fealgood Foundation, has publicly asked for an investigation by authorities into the issue of Napoli Bern expense improprieties regarding 9/11 victim clients, according to the NY Post. 

Where this mess goes from here is anyone’s guess.  However, the priority for all of us should be to make sure the 9/11 victims are not victimized again by the ongoing Napoli Bern litigation.