Littler inks deal to end fraud, infringement battle with employer group

A man walks through the street carrying a briefcase in Manhattan, New York City
A man walks through the street carrying a briefcase in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., August 19, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
  • Center for Workplace Compliance accused firm of misappropriation
  • Agreement also tosses Littler counterclaims

(Reuters) - Littler Mendelson, one of its former shareholders and an association of major U.S. employees have agreed to dismiss dueling claims in a 10-month-old lawsuit, including allegations that the law firm defrauded the group and misappropriated its data.

U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga in Alexandria, Virginia signed off Wednesday on a four-page stipulated order stating that the Center for Workplace Compliance, Littler, and former Littler shareholder Lance Gibbons were dismissing all their claims with prejudice.

The parties said they entered into a "written binding agreement resolving their respective claims and counterclaims," but they did not detail the agreement. Representatives for Littler, CWC and Gibbons did not respond to requests for comment.

The CWC, whose membership includes Littler clients, first sued the employment law giant, Gibbons and Chris Gokturk, a current Littler principal, in November 2020 for allegedly accessing and downloading materials from CWC's members-only website and then using the material to bill clients.

Gokturk was represented by Littler's attorneys and is included in the agreement dismissing all claims.

The CWC claimed that Gibbons and Gokturk were ex-employees of the center who were aware of its rules prohibiting law firms from accessing and using its members-only materials, but did so anyway using Littler's computers and servers.

Littler shot back against CWC's claims in January, arguing that the center can't claim copyright ownership of the materials in question because the materials were co-created by NT Lakis, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that appeared to have close ties with CWC.

The firm also countered that Gibbons and Gokturk were not employees of the CWC, stating Gibbons was a partner at NT Lakis and Gokturk was an independent contractor.

The parties each tapped litigation big guns for the fight. CWC retained lawyers from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, including J. Kevin Fee, the co-leader of its trademark and copyright litigation practice. Littler and Gokturk turned to a team at Squire Patton Boggs, including global litigation co-chair John Burlingame.

Gibbons, who left Littler in April 2020, was represented by Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr partner Robert Gill and associate Ian McLin.

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U.S. employers' group squares off with Littler over alleged fraud, infringement

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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.