Cases & Deals

Individual attorneys win reversal of adverse judgment in New York Court of Appeals

Clients Chill, C. Daniel; Reich, Elaine M.; Mallis, Steven

After a nearly ten-year battle through the New York courts, Jones Day clients, three individual attorneys, obtained a definitive victory on October 28, 2014, when New York's highest court ruled that the claims against them were time-barred. The attorneys had received unsolicited gifts in 1998 from an extremely wealthy and extremely grateful client on whose behalf they had just won over $100 million after over 15 years of litigation. The gifts were accompanied by heartfelt notes of gratitude and were known to the client's financial advisor. The evidence unambiguously showed that they were knowing and voluntary. But after a fall-out between the client and the lawyers' firm many years later, the client demanded the gifts' return. That claim was initially rejected before the Special Referee who presided over the trial, but then resuscitated on appeal, and the lawyers were ordered to return the gifts. Jones Day succeeded in persuading the Appellate Division to grant leave to appeal its decision to the the New York Court of Appeals, and then successfully argued that the statute of limitations barred the claim for the gifts' return.

In the Matter of Sylvan Lawrence, No. 149 (N.Y. App. 2014)