Party seeks LinkedIn records in Chartwell case over failed merger
March 7, 2017 12:24 AM
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
By Lizzy McLellan / The Legal Intelligencer
In litigation brought by Chartwell Law Offices over a failed merger, one of the defendants is seeking to subpoena LinkedIn records, alleging that his account was hacked and that could affect the civil case.
Brian J. Huott has filed a motion to appoint a commissioner in Chartwell Law Offices' multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Wadsworth Huott over the firms' failed combination, so he can obtain records from LinkedIn about his account on the professional networking website and depose the company.
Mr. Huott's motion alleges that his account was hacked, and that the hacking raised issues related to the civil case.
He claims his LinkedIn account was shut down without his knowledge, then someone created a new account using his name, again without his consent. The profile was then edited to show Mr. Huott as "managing partner" of Wadsworth Huott, the motion said.
"This is false and someone is making these changes without Mr. Huott's consent," the motion said. "The issues of Mr. Huott's employment and alleged authority are issues related to the instant case and Mr. Huott should be entitled to discover who is manipulating information related to this case."
Mr. Huott is a partner in Wadsworth Huott's West Palm Beach, Florida, office focusing on workers' compensation matters, and he is managing partner of that office, according to the firm's website.
According to Mr. Huott's motion, the law in California, where LinkedIn is headquartered, requires a commissioner to be appointed in order to issue a subpoena for deposition.
Chartwell, which has several offices including one in Pittsburgh, sued Wadsworth Huott, as well as partners Christopher Wadsworth, Mr. Huott and John Perrault, over a 2015 merger agreement. The deal fell apart when Wadsworth Huott's lawyers made a mass exodus from Chartwell just a month after the merger was announced. The two firms disagreed over whether a valid contract had been entered when they agreed to merge.
Chartwell's complaint alleges civil theft in the amount of $4.2 million as well as $1.7 million in breach of contract damages and $1.7 million for breach of fiduciary duty. It argues Wadsworth Huott took $1.4 million in accounts receivable and work-in-progress when its attorneys left Chartwell, and owes the firm more than $300,000 with regard to the failed integration.
The defendants filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit, which were denied. After that, Wadsworth Huott and Mr. Wadsworth filed a counterclaim, alleging that Chartwell had no intention of integrating their practices.
"Instead, it intended to just poach away as many of Wadsworth Huott's clients as possible by firing Mr. Wadsworth, and keeping just enough attorneys to use as a pretext to solicit Wadsworth Huott's clients," the counterclaim said.
Scott Zappolo of Zappolo & Farwell, an attorney for Mr. Huott, did not return a call seeking comment. Neither did George Mahfood of Broad and Cassel, who is representing Chartwell, nor Chartwell CEO Clifford Goldstein.
Lizzy McLellan can be contacted at 215-557-2493 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LizzyMcLellTLI.
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