Jury finds law firm Foley Hoag owes expert's fees

REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay
  • Matter involved firm's representation of Venezuela
  • Verdict came after three days of trial

(Reuters) - A District of Columbia jury on Thursday said Foley Hoag must pay $92,000 in damages to a legal expert who alleged the U.S. law firm had not paid him for his work on an arbitration matter that involved its client Venezuela.

The jury's verdict came after three days of trial in the District of Columbia Superior Court. Plaintiff Alejandro Salas Patron, a lawyer in Mexico City, sued Foley Hoag in 2018 alleging claims including breach of contract.

Other claims, including negligence, were previously dismissed. Salas was also awarded interest, an amount not shown immediately on the docket. The trial was before D.C. Superior Court Judge Ebony Scott.

Salas' lawyer, William Wilson III of Wilson Williams, said on Friday that Salas was "delighted that after unnecessary litigation" he was paid for services provided in 2016.

A Foley attorney who defended the firm, and a representative from the Boston-based firm, on Friday did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Foley's lawyers had argued in the litigation, court filings show, that Salas' invoices would be presented to Venezuela, and he would be paid after the country paid the firm. Salas was brought on as an expert in Mexican commercial law.

Foley's lawyers said in a court filing in May 2020 that Venezuela owed money to the firm for "legal services rendered and costs incurred, including the amount owed to Salas for his expert services."

The firm's filing was redacted to conceal dollar amounts.

A representative from the Venezuela embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to a message on Friday seeking comment.

Attorneys for Salas told the court that he "only agreed to contract with Foley because of its reputation, size and finances in the industry."

In a pretrial ruling, the judge restricted the ability of the plaintiffs in their presentation to spotlight the size and revenue of Foley Hoag. The firm employs nearly 300 lawyers and recorded about $293 million in revenue last year, according to legal industry data from The American Lawyer publication.

Attorneys for Foley had sought to restrict such details to the jury on the ground the firm's size and finances would be unfairly prejudicial.

The case is Salas Patron v. Foley Hoag, D.C. Superior Court, No. 2018CA008637B.

for plaintiff: William Wilson III of Wilson Williams; and Luke McGrath of Dunnington Bartholow & Miller

For defendant: Nicholas Renzler and Jonathan Bard of Foley Hoag

Read more:

U.S. law firm Foley Hoag says finances off-limits at expert's fee trial

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