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Miles & Stockbridge, former principal reach confidential settlement on all claims

Miles & Stockbridge, former principal reach confidential settlement on all claims

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Donald E. English Jr. won his lawsuit against Miles & Stockbridge for back pay.
Donald E. English Jr. won his lawsuit against Miles & Stockbridge for back pay.

Miles & Stockbridge and a former equity principal at the firm have reached a confidential settlement on all claims, both sides confirmed Wednesday.

News of the settlement comes just a day before the parties were scheduled to attend a hearing in Baltimore City Circuit Court to plead their case on a motion for attorneys’ fees, and just over a year after attorney Donald E. English Jr. filed a lawsuit against his old firm.

While the parties said they settled the claims “amicably and satisfactorily” in a joint statement Wednesday, Miles & Stockbridge and English seemed to be far from that point last year.

Now a non-equity partner at Jackson Lewis PC in Baltimore, English resigned from Miles & Stockbridge in July 2017 after 13 years with the firm, the last four as equity principal. English claimed after he resigned that Miles & Stockbridge reduced his salary and “clawed back” nearly $60,000 the firm had paid him, according to the lawsuit. The firm also refused to pay English for his work on the last three days of the job, as well as his salary and benefits through the end of the month and any prorated bonuses, according to his lawsuit.

At trial and in court filings, Miles & Stockbridge argued that pay for equity principals draws against their projected earnings but that money is not necessarily earned when the attorney is paid. Instead, the money is paid in advance based on estimates about the firm’s planned profits for the year. English was overdrawn on his salary when he left Miles & Stockbridge, the firm said.

The unusually public dispute mesmerized the legal community and led to days of testimony at the trial, which spanned more than three weeks. Among those testifying were leaders at Miles & Stockbridge and attorneys who left the firm in February 2018 to open the Baltimore office of Nelson Mullins. The trial also shed light on discussions about firm finances, partner compensation and settlement talks that are rarely shared in public.

English was awarded $231,000 following the seven-day jury trial in June. The jury’s award included treble damages. Miles & Stockbridge filed a notice of appeal after a judge denied post-trial motions filed by the firm seeking to set aside or reduce the verdict.

Three months after the jury verdict, English filed a motion seeking $776,000 in attorneys’ fees from Miles & Stockbridge, alleging the firm used a “scorched earth” defense strategy and refused to entertain numerous settlement offers, causing English to rack up such exorbitant fees.

English asked his old firm to pay the fees for the more than 1,600 hours his two attorneys, Tonya Baña and Kenneth Ravenell, spent on the case. The litigation may have “proceeded like any other garden-variety wage dispute,” the plaintiff’s motion said, but Miles & Stockbridge complicated the case.

In a response, Miles & Stockbridge asked a judge to either deny the motion or substantially lower the attorneys’ fees for what it described as an employment contract case that lasted 11 months, involved two parties, did not have any counterclaims and had less than 125 “substantive” docket entries.

“(What) English seeks is astronomical when compared to awards in similar, and even much more complex and much longer cases,” attorneys for Miles & Stockbridge wrote in the filing.

Miles & Stockbridge is represented by Ward B. Coe III and Mark S. Saudek, partners at Gallagher, Evelius & Jones LLP in Baltimore.

The case is Donald E. English, Jr. vs Miles & Stockbridge PC, 24C17004438.

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