Client should have known of ‘troll’ attorney’s misconduct – 3rd Circuit

  • Adlife’s brief in the 3rd Circuit

(Reuters) – Richard Liebowitz, who has been hit with hundreds of federal lawsuits in New York and beyond, has reaped the worst consequences for violating procedural rules and court orders. the court.

In November 2021, a New York state appeals court held suspended his law license forever, concluded Liebowitz – dubbed a copyright “troll” by a Manhattan federal judge who criticized his “astonishing number of files with a high degree of conscientious objection and rapid cultivation” – has “made a mockery of the ordering of court proceedings.”

What about Liebowitz’s clients? Should the photographers and other copyright owners who trusted Liebowitz to prosecute their claims be penalized for their attorney’s behavior?

It may depend on what Liebowitz’s clients knew and when they knew it, based on a decision issued Friday by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 3rd Circuit control that one of Liebowitz’s biggest clients, an advertising and marketing firm with which he has filed more than 80 lawsuits in federal court, can’t credibly say he didn’t know the bad name of the lawyer until November 2020 – months after the company received notice that a federal judge. in Albany was allowed Liebowitz for misconduct in one of the publisher’s cases. The appeals court held that the trial judge did not abuse his discretion when he threw out Adlife Marketing Communications Co Inc’s copyright claim against Karns Prime and Fancy Food Ltd based on the Liebowitz’s inability to do justice.

“Due to Adlife’s deep relationship with Liebowitz over the many cases they worked on together,” wrote Judge Felipe Restrepo for a panel that also included Judges Thomas Hardiman and David Porter, ” it is inconceivable that Adlife was ‘in the dark’ about Liebowitz’s background until November 2020.”

Liebowitz did not respond to my email. A woman who answered the phone at Liebowitz’s law office said the attorney was out of business. She declined to provide other contact information for him.

The law firm that represented Liebowitz in the Adlife case, SRipLaw, did not respond to my emailed inquiry about the 3rd Circuit’s decision, which has not yet been published. Karns’ attorney, Matthew Vodzak of Fowler Hirtzel McNulty & Spaulding, declined to comment.

Adlife insisted that Liebowitz was not aware of the controversial records until his case against Karns was about to be dismissed. At that time, according to SRipLaw in Adlife’s brief in the 3rd Circuit, Liebowitz had already failed to notify Adlife that he was not allowed to litigate the case because he was not admitted to the Pennsylvania bar. He also failed to respond in a timely manner to Karns’ requests, failed to request access from Karns, failed to negotiate with Karns on a joint research statement and failed to disclose Adlife to once Karns moved for the sentence.

Additionally, Adlife told the 3rd Circuit that Liebowitz neglected to notify the company that he socks in June 2020 with a nearly $105,000 fine by US District Judge Jesse Furman in Manhattan, who ordered Liebowitz to file motions in all of his other cases. Liebowitz entered a plea deal in Adlife’s case against Karns, but three Adlife employees, including CEO Joel Albrizio, said in unnamed affidavits Liebowitz gave them the idea of ​​Manhattan.

A few months after Furman’s conviction, Liebowitz was acquitted again — this time for $1,000 in one of the many lawsuits he filed for Adlife. Liebowitz asked U.S. District Judge Lawrence Kahn of Albany for a default judgment against Adlife and $30,000 in attorneys’ fees. An Albany judge ruled that Adlife failed to establish its copyright in the image on which its infringement claim is based and that Liebowitz made frivolous allegations about its hourly billing and All rights reserved by Adlife.

Kahn’s decision included a list of other Adlife cases in which Liebowitz was approved. But when Adlife CEO asked Liebowitz about the Albany judge’s decision, according to Adlife’s 3rd Circuit brief, Liebowitz denied the accusation, accusing Kahn of “corruption.”

Despite all the signs — including numerous press releases of Liebowitz’s questionable tactics, in addition to the Albany sentencing order — Adlife told the 3rd Circuit that Liebowitz first knew about the Karns litigation. in November 2020, when Liebowitz emailed Albrizio about Karns’ court summary.

In that email, Liebowitz admitted, specifically, that he had not provided any evidence of actual damages to Adlife and that he had not obtained a lawyer to local as the attorney of record in the case. However, he assured Albrizio that Adlife could still pursue legal damages, for which Liebowitz had brought in a Pennsylvania-licensed attorney. (Liebowitz bragged, of course, that Adlife would probably be able to show that Karns had participated in the lawsuit.)

Adlife, which replaced Liebowitz within weeks of the November 2020 email, argued on appeal that until the email, the company had no idea how badly Liebowitz had done the Karns case. .

“Liebowitz kept Adlife in the dark,” the company said in its filing. “Adlife did not fully understand Liebowitz’s mistakes until it was too late.” At the very least, the company said, the trial judge should have called a hearing so that Adlife could present evidence that its executives did not know about Liebowitz’s shortcomings.

The 3rd Circuit was unconvinced, describing Adlife’s defense of ignorance as “stunning.” In light of everything Adlife admitted it knew about Liebowitz, the appeals court said, it was “improper” for the company to “set aside” the August ruling from the Albany judge that the dismissal of Karns.

Don’t worry too much about Adlife, which reached a confidential settlement with Liebowitz last January to settle invalid suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York. The 3rd Circuit’s decision makes it clear that Adlife appears to have good reason to be cautious about its attorney.

But it makes you wonder, however, about all the other customers whose cases are part of the Liebowitz collapse.

Read more:

The copyright attorney has been suspended from practicing in New York

2nd Circuit affirms all Manhattan judgments against Liebowitz

2nd Circuit denies appeal of copyright attorney Liebowitz’s convictions

Report by Alison Frankel

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Feedback is the opinion of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.

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Alison Frankel has covered high-profile business events as a reporter for Reuters since 2011. A graduate of Dartmouth College, she has worked as a reporter in New York covering business and law for more than and thirty years. Before joining Reuters, he was a reporter and editor at The American Lawyer. Frankel is the author of Double Eagle: The Epic Story of the World’s Most Valuable Coin.

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