Hal's Case

Hal was frustrated with his attorneys. He thought he had a simple breach of contract case. His partners had terminated his interest in their business, an up-and- coming fiber optics service company. The partnership agreement provided that his partners were obliged to buy him out within a couple months or face dissolution of the company. He was willing to accept $300,000 if the matter could settle quickly.

When he couldn't work out his problems, he hired a solo practicioner to file a claim against his partners with the American Arbitration Association. After two years of litigation and tens of thousands of dollars in fees he felt he was just spinning his wheels. He replaced his attorney with lawyers from the C. firm, a prominent Philadelphia firm with a reputation for being capable and effective.

C. firm lawyers encouraged him to retain forensic accountants to investigate the possibility that his partners had manipulated the company books for their own benefit. The accountants were talented and experienced but very expensive. Soon, Hal had spent over $150,000 on counsel fees and accountants' bills. As best he could tell, the case was still moving at a snail's pace. Morever, the C. firm attorneys just seemed to antagonize his ex-partners' attorneys and he was being billed for their quarrels.

Hal asked his real estate attorney to help him find a new lawyer, for the purpose of evaluating the progress of his case and making a recommendation. His real estate attorney recommended that he contact Mike Bomstein.

Mike advised Hal from the outset that he might end up concluding that the C. firm attorneys were doing excellent work. Perhaps it was simply a difficult case. He also warned that the evaluation of years' worth of documents and attorneys' files could be expensive. Hal, however, gave him a free hand and encouraged Mike to do whatever was needed to provide him an informed opinion.

At the end of the review process, Mike met with Hal to review his conclusions and recommendations. Mike agreed with Hal that there had been unlawful manipulation of the company's affairs by his former partners, but advised him that the partners' schemes were transparent and would not require the assistance of sophisticated experts to prove the case.

Mike also explained to Hal that, in his view, the case was not as substantial as prior counsel had suggested. The AAA arbitrator might award him as little as half the 2002 book value of the company. This was very different from an award based on the company's current revenues and profits. Mike also explained that the arbitrator might not take into account the sums diverted from the business by Hal's former partners.

Hal made the decision to let the C. firm attorneys go. Pinnola & Bomstein was retained to move the case ahead and prepare it for trial.

Over the course of the next year and a half, Pinnola & Bomstein obtained additional documents for use at trial. Mike found no difficulties in dealing with counsel for Hal's former partners and eventually the two attorneys were talking about achieving a reasonable resolution of the dispute. Finally, in April, 2008, the two sides agreed to settle Hal's claims for $500,000, substantially more than his original demand.