N.Y. firm spurns ex-Clinton White House counsel's fee demand for 9/11 work

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REUTERS/Toby Melville

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  • Kreindler & Kreindler: Quinn's compensation demand premature
  • Quinn never agreed to be 'unpaid volunteer,' his lawsuit says

(Reuters) - New York's Kreindler & Kreindler has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit from a former top lawyer in the Bill Clinton White House who claimed he hasn't been paid for his work with the firm advocating for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The firm told a Washington, D.C., federal judge in a motion to dismiss on Sept. 3 that its contract with Jack Quinn, a former Clinton White House counsel, was "unfinished and ongoing" and his demand for compensation was premature. The firm called Quinn "impatient."

The scope of any monetary recovery from the 9/11 litigation can't yet be calculated, according to the firm, which is representing victims of the attacks in multidistrict litigation in Manhattan federal court.

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"With motion practice and appeals it may well be years before this case is finally resolved and any contingency legal fees and net recovery determined," lawyers for Kreindler & Kreindler, represented by the firms Stinson and Kirsch & Niehaus, wrote in the new filing.

A lawyer for Quinn, Kevin Byrnes of the Tysons, Virginia-based boutique Fluet Huber + Hoang, did not immediately comment on Tuesday.

An attorney for Kreindler & Kreindler, Emily Kirsch of New York's Kirsch & Niehaus, said the firm "will let the court address Quinn's claim for legal fees."

Quinn, a partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips in Washington, D.C., who leads the firm's government affairs and public policy practice, sued Kreindler & Kreindler in July in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

His complaint asserted he "never offered to spend eight years laboring on legal, political and media activities as an unpaid volunteer." Quinn's lawsuit, which alleged a breach of contract, asked a trial judge to open up access to financial records at the firm.

"Quinn has vigorously and effectively worked, and continues to work, on behalf of the clients he shares with defendants," his lawsuit said.

Quinn alleges he was owed compensation based on a fee-sharing recovery formula first set out in a 2013 agreement. His complaint said Kreindler & Kreindler owed him fees from the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which the U.S. Congress established in 2015.

In its motion to dismiss, Kreindler & Kreindler said its agreements with Quinn do not reference "anything concerning recoveries from the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund."

The firm said the terrorism victim fund comes "from financial penalties assessed against entities and individuals that have violated trade sanctions laws, not from the 9/11 litigation."

Sept. 11-related litigation in New York, the firm said, "is still unfolding, and its costs, potential rewards or settlements all remain unknown and unknowable."

The case is John Quinn v. Kreindler & Kreindler and James Kreindler, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 1:21-cv-01824.

For the plaintiff: Kevin Byrnes of Fluet Huber + Hoang

For Kreindler & Kreindler: Eric Liebeler of Stinson and Emily Bab Kirsch of Kirsch & Niehaus

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