Fraudulent Billing Lawsuit Against WilmerHale Law Firm Can Proceed to Trial, Texas Appeals Court Rules
DALLAS – A fraud lawsuit against the Boston-based law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Door LLP charging that the firm submitted millions of dollars in questionable legal expenses can proceed to trial following a ruling last week by the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas.
The lawsuit stems from WilmerHale’s representation of Prabhat Goyal, the former chief financial officer for the software antivirus manufacturer McAfee Inc. In the New Year’s Eve ruling, the three-judge panel upheld the validity of the lawsuit filed by the Dallas law firm Rose•Walker, L.L.P., on behalf of McAfee. The panel also rejected an effort by WilmerHale to have the case dismissed via a writ of mandamus.
The lawsuit against WilmerHale questions more than half of a $12 million legal bill submitted by the firm for its defense of Goyal, who was sentenced to one year and one day in a federal prison last year after being convicted of overstating the company’s profits from 1998 through January 2001.
“WilmerHale thought they could submit any bill and McAfee would pay it,” says attorney Martin Rose of Rose•Walker, lead counsel for McAfee in the case. “This ruling says that WilmerHale is going to be brought before a Texas court and held accountable. Now that discovery can begin, we’re going to learn a lot more about this firm’s billing practices.”
Among other things, the lawsuit charges that WilmerHale’s defense of Goyal contained more than $6.8 million in unjustifiable fees, including charges for limousine service, luxury hotel rooms, lavish meals and extensive bar tabs. The legal claim also references numerous fees and expenses submitted by 16 different WilmerHale partners, 34 associates, 10 legal assistants and 49 staff personnel.
In this latest ruling, the judicial panel agreed that a separate dispute between McAfee and Goyal over who should pay the legal defense bill is irrelevant to the fraud charge. Rose says the ruling clears the way for a jury trial later this year in Collin County, Texas, where Santa Clara, Calif.-based McAfee has extensive operations.
Rose•Walker, L.L.P. is a premier trial law firm, focusing on complex civil litigation. The firm represents businesses and individuals, and its many major courtroom victories have helped Rose•Walker earn a national reputation for excellence. To learn more about the firm, please visit www.rosewalker.com.
For more information or to speak with Marty Rose, please contact Mark Annick at 800-559-4534, 214-213-1754 (mobile) or firstname.lastname@example.org.