Law firm gets green light to sue ex-partner in crypto battle

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The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York. REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs

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  • Roche Freedman says it kicked founding partner Jason Cyrulnik out of the firm in February
  • Cyrulnik alleges firm is trying to steal his share of a $250 million cryptocurrency asset
  • The firm was formed in 2019 by a group of Boies Schiller litigators

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Manhattan ruled that law firm Roche Freedman can pursue a lawsuit against a former partner it says it fired for "abusive, destructive, erratic, and obstructive behavior."

In a 22-page ruling dated Thursday, U.S. District Judge John Koeltl held that Jason Cyrulnik's arguments for dismissing his former firm's lawsuit "are either moot or without merit."

Roche Cyrulnik Freedman was founded in 2019 by a group of Boies Schiller Flexner lawyers and is known for representing cryptocurrency investors in litigation. The firm voted to remove Cyrulnik in February 2021 and filed a lawsuit in Manhattan federal court, asking a judge to rule that Cyrulnik was properly voted out of the partnership.

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In its original lawsuit, the firm accused Cyrulnik of refusing to leave unless he received "excessive payments." In July, Roche Freedman alleged Cyrulnik was preventing it from recovering more than $3.3 million in unpaid attorney fees from Cyrulnik's clients. He has also not turned over his billable time records, the firm said.

Cyrulnik countered with his own state court lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County, Florida, alleging that his former partners were trying to steal his share of a $250 million cryptocurrency asset.

Cyrulnik has argued for the dismissal of Roche Freedman's lawsuit or pausing it while his Florida lawsuit against the firm and five of its founding partners plays out. 11th Judicial Circuit Judge William Thomas in Miami paused Cyrulnik's lawsuit in December, Koeltl noted in his ruling.

Cyrulnik's attorneys at Kasowitz Benson Torres said in a statement Friday that "Mr. Cyrulnik’s rights will be vindicated and that he will be awarded the substantial assets and damages to which he indisputably is entitled.”

A spokesperson for Roche Freedman declined to comment.

The case is Roche Cyrulnik Freedman LLP v. Jason Cyrulnik, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1:21-cv-01746.

For Roche Freedman: Eric Rosen of Roche Freedman, and Sean Hecker of Kaplan Hecker & Fink

For Jason Cyrulnik: Marc Kasowitz, Gavin Schryver and Michael Hanin of Kasowitz Benson Torres

(This story has been updated with a statement from Cyrulnik's lawyers.)

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.