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$4 Million Settlement in Commercial Litigation Representation of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

Outcome: $4 Million

Breezevale Limited v. Timothy L. Dickinson, et al., Case No.: CA-10818-94, DC Superior Court

After a jury trial and multiple appeals, Jon Tycko and Hassan Zavareei obtained a judgment in favor of client, the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP (GDC) based on forgery of central documents by a former client.
In a ruling by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, a significant precedent was set regarding legal malpractice suits. Despite a client’s misconduct during litigation, the court determined that such actions do not inherently prevent them from pursuing claims against their attorneys. This decision led to the reinstatement of a jury’s award exceeding $2 million in favor of Breezevale Limited against the law firm.
The core of the dispute traces back to October 1989 when Breezevale engaged the services of GDC for a contractual disagreement with Bridgestone-Firestone, Inc. (“Firestone”). Complications arose during trial preparations when it was disclosed that a Breezevale employee planned to admit in their deposition to forging critical documents associated with Breezevale’s claims against Firestone. The employee alleged that these forgeries, involving spreadsheets and offer letters, were conducted under the instructions and involvement of Breezevale’s upper management. This revelation introduced a complex layer to the legal battle, underscoring the challenges inherent in managing litigation involving internal misconduct. Initially, GDC did not inform Breezevale about the employee’s intention to admit to forging crucial documents during the deposition. It was only shortly before the continued session that GDC notified a Breezevale executive of the situation, who then insisted the employee was dishonest and requested postponement for further verification. GDC declined this request, and the employee’s testimony proceeded as planned, leading Firestone’s lawyers to prepare a motion to dismiss Breezevale’s claims due to fraud and misconduct. The potential for this motion coerced Breezevale into a significantly less favorable settlement with Firestone. This series of events laid the groundwork for Breezevale’s legal malpractice claim against GDC.
A trial ensued, then an appeal, then the case was remanded to trial court, before being appealed again.

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