Chadbourne, Norton Rose To Pay $3M To Settle Gender Suit

Posted March 14th, 2018.

As It Appeared On

By Pete Brush

Law360, New York (March 14, 2018, 5:43 PM EDT) — Three female lawyers who lodged a proposed class action claiming the former Chadbourne & Parke LLP law firm and its leadership systematically underpaid women asked a Manhattan federal judge Wednesday to approve $3.1 million in payments to settle the case.

Kerrie L. Campbell, the first woman to bring suit, is in line to receive $1 million, according to papers lodged before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken. Two plaintiffs who later joined, Mary Yelenick and Jaroslawa Johnson, are in line to receive payments totaling $750,000 and $250,000, respectively, according to the filings.

Their Sanford Heisler LLP legal team is to receive roughly $1.1 million as part of the settlement, according to court filings.

Campbell, who was later ousted from Chadbourne, filed suit in 2016 alleging the firm has a “boys’ club” culture that led it to pay women less. The women also contended that Norton Rose Fulbright, which recently absorbed Chadbourne, should be held liable as a successor. Norton Rose is a party to the proposed settlements, filings say.

It took more than a year of motion practice to reach an accord on the Equal Pay Act claims, and their standing to sue as employees faced substantial risk, their legal team told Judge Oetken, adding that the dollar amounts are “favorable” given those risks.

“We’re pleased the parties have resolved the claims under the Equal Pay Act after hard-fought litigation, and we are hopeful that the court will approve the settlement,” the women’s counsel, Alexandra Harwin of Sanford Heisler LLP, told Law360.

Half of each plaintiff’s settlements were to compensate them for mental distress damages, the filings note.

The sides first had a breakthrough in settlement talks on Nov. 13, four days after the plaintiffs won a key discovery ruling, Wednesday’s filings say. In that ruling, U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses held that six male defendants who used to run Chadbourne — Marc Alpert, Andrew Giaccia, Abbe Lowell, Howard Seife, Lawrence Rosenberg and Paul Weber — would have to submit their personal emails for discovery.

The defendants had argued those accounts should be off limits.

Norton Rose spokesman Dan McKenna declined comment except to acknowledge the proposed settlement.

“We are hopeful that it will be granted,” he said.

No court date has been set for Judge Oetken or Judge Moses to take up discussion of the proposed deal.

The women are represented by David W. Sanford and Alexandra Harwin of Sanford Heisler LLP.

Chadbourne is represented by Evandro C. Gigante, Kathleen M. McKenna and Rachel S. Fischer of Proskauer Rose LLP.

Norton Rose is represented by Steven M. Bierman Sidley Austin LLP.

The case is Campbell et al. v. Chadbourne & Parke et al., case number 1:16-cv-06832, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

–Editing by Adam LoBelia.

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