Bad breakup leads to lawsuit between former associate, firm

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today on a case where a law firm sued its former associate who left, along with several other employees, to join a new firm.

In Kopka, Landau & Pinkus v. Larry Hansen, et al., No49A02-0611-CV-987, Hansen's previous employer, law firm Kopka Landau & Pinkus, appealed two trial court orders -summary judgment in favor of Hansen and judgment in favor of Hansen on the counterclaims against KLP.

Hansen worked as an associate attorney for KLP and was an at-will employee. In September 2000, Hansen quit along with four associates and three support staffers. All those who resigned joined Hansen at the law firm Skiles Hansen Cook & DeTrude, where Hansen became a partner.

KLP filed a complaint of eight counts against Hansen and his new law firm. After a hearing, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Hansen and SHCD on all eight counts. Hansen's two counterclaims against KLP - malicious prosecution and compensation and damages to Hansen pursuant to the Wage Payment Statute - were granted in Hansen's favor.

KLP appealed Count 1 of its complaint - breach of fiduciary duty by Hansen - and the judgment in Hansen's favor on his new law firm's claims.

KLP argued Hansen breached his fiduciary duty to KLP when he spoke to other employees about how much money it would take to have them join him at SHCD before leaving KLP. Although he expressed a desire to find positions for the KLP employees at his new firm, there is no evidence that Hansen made formal offers to any KLP employees or his actions constituted anything more than preparation to compete with KLP, so the Court of Appeals affirmed the summary judgment in Hansen's favor on Count 1 of KLP's complaint, wrote Chief Judge John Baker.

The Court of Appeals did reverse the trial court's decision to award damages and attorney fees pursuant to the Wage Payment Statute in Hansen's favor. The money he was owed was a bonus and he eventually received the payment from the firm. Despite the delay, his bonus does not fall under "wages" for purposes of the Wage Payment Statute and he is not entitled to up to double the unpaid wages and attorney fees for not receiving that bonus within a certain time period.

KLP did breach a contract with Hansen owing him the bonus money and Hansen argued that he is entitled to the prejudgment interest on those damages. The Court of Appeals remanded this matter back to the trial court for a calculation of the amount of prejudgment interest to which Hansen is entitled.

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  1. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...