Law firm’s request for preliminary injunction against former member attorneys denied

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Appellant “S&H” appeals from the denial of its request for a preliminary injunction against Appellees “LTSB”, Ronald F. Layer, Andrew R. Tanzillo, Larry D. Stassin, and Michael D. Babcock (collectively, “Appellees”).  In the case, Appellees, who had been attorneys employed by S&H, left to form LTSB. Approximately 550 cases, of which approximately 292 were contingency-fee cases, transferred from S&H to LTSB as a result of the quartet’s leaving. Over the course of the next several months, LTSB attempted on numerous occasions to convince S&H to discuss the matter of what share of fees earned on cases resolved by LTSB, but originated by S&H, would be paid to S&H. No agreement on the matter of division of fees was reached, although all agree that S&H is entitled to collect a portion of the fee earned from any resolved LTSB case originated at S&H. On November 21, 2007, S&H filed an amended motion for preliminary injunction against Appellees requesting that LTSB deposit all past and future fees collected from cases that originated at S&H in a joint account (to which LTSB would not have unilateral access) until the trial court could enter a judgment as to their distribution.  Following a hearing, the trial court denied S&H’s motion for a preliminary injunction.

Conclusion (slip op. at 10):  The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.

Key Analysis (slip op. at 5, 9):  We conclude that S&H has failed to establish irreparable harm . . . S&H seems to concede that it would suffer, at worst, economic harm from the activity it seeks to have enjoined. As a general rule, “a party suffering mere economic injury is not entitled to injunctive relief because damages are sufficient to make the party whole” . . . S&H points to no authority that a Rule violation by itself is unlawful conduct, which would establish per se irreparable harm, or that the Rule violation it alleges, even if true, would give rise to anything beyond purely economic damages, denying it an adequate remedy at law. Even assuming, arguendo, that LTSB has violated Indiana Rule of Professional Conduct 1.15(e), that violation, by itself, does not support the imposition of a preliminary injunction.

About Bose McKinney & Evans LLP

Bose McKinney & Evans LLP is a business law firm, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, serving both publicly held and privately held businesses, governmental entities and high-growth industries. Our clients include Fortune 100 companies, international manufacturers, national and regional financial institutions, agribusinesses, sports teams, university-incubated start-ups, media, utilities, cities and schools, to name a few. We strive to build strong relationships with our clients as key business advisors, to exceed expectations in the quality of our work, to be knowledgeable about our clients’ businesses and sectors, to be responsive to service needs and to continually seek to improve the delivery of client services. Our ultimate focus is on our clients.
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