It’s been a year since Ven Johnson’s high-profile split from Geoffrey Fieger’s eponymous law firm. And according to a recently filed lawsuit in Oakland County, he has some unfinished business.
The Detroit News reports that Johnson’s suit, which was filed last week and assigned to Judge Wendy Potts, alleges that professional misconduct, violation of state business law, and Fieger’s demeanor caused him to quit.
In the complaint, Johnson wrote that “[t]he combination of intolerable behavior, broken promises and false representations, the mistreatment of clients, ethically questionable edicts, the loss of experienced trial attorneys, the failure to provide corporate books, records and accounts, as well as other actions … resulted in a deterioration of the business and compelled” his resignation.
Michigan Lawyers Weekly reported last year that Fieger put new policies into place at his firm, including a requirement that trial lawyers keep a caseload of 30 cases at all times. In addition, if three cases didn’t go to trial every year, the lawyer on that case would face having to pay a $25,000 fine. Eleven attorneys have since left.
“The reason Fieger Law has survived for this long, and the reason Geoffrey Fieger is still in business, is because of the high demands I put on these lawyers,” he told Lawyers Weekly at the time.
In Johnson’s complaint, he wrote that such a stipulation “was onerous, unprecedented and of questionable ethics, given that clients, rather than lawyers, have the sole right to determine whether they wish to accept a settlement or proceed to trial.”
The News noted that Johnson alleged he has suffered “significant and irreparable harm to his ongoing law practice” as a result of Fieger’s actions and behavior. Johnson is seeking compensatory damages, claiming he was cheated of compensation, including a percentage of wages and settlements reached by the firm, and he also seeks full accounting of the law firm’s books from 2001 to 2011.
UPDATE: In response to the suit, Fieger told Lawyers Weekly that Johnson “must be in financial trouble,” and that his tactical skills “are second only to Charlie Sheen. … He jumped off a cliff and now he regrets it.” Fieger said that he believes the case will be dismissed, “and then you won’t write another thing about it, because you won’t be interested in hearing the liar, only in the ridiculous claims he made.”