Bob Dremluk: Legal Update on Unfinished Business Claims in NY and CA

Robert W. Dremluk, a partner in our New York City office, recently authored a two-part article about unfinished business claims. This article was published in the September and October 2014 issues of the Law Firm Partnership & Benefits Report, an ALM publication. Mr. Dremluk was trial counsel for Seyfarth Shaw, the only firm to obtain dismissal of unfinished business claims at the trial court level.

View Part 1 HERE.

View Part 2 HERE.

The article explores recent case law developments, particularly in New York and California. Specifically, it highlights the recent decision by the New York Court of Appeals that held that New York does not recognized unfinished business claims for hourly rate matters — noting that pending hourly fee matters are not partnership property or unfin­ished business within the meaning of New York’s Partnership Law and that a law firm does not own a cli­ent or an engagement, and is only entitled to be paid for services actu­ally rendered.

On the other hand, the validity of unfinished business claims remains unsettled in many other jurisdictions. For example, bankruptcy trustees continue to prosecute such claims under California law. One of the reasons why this is occurring may be because the California Supreme Court has never ruled on the issue — arguably providing the trustees with the ability to pursue such claims — at least until the California Supreme Court is faced with the issue and decides whether or not to adopt the reasoning and analysis of the New York’s highest court. 

Robert Dremluk is a partner in the New York office of Culhane Meadows, practicing in the areas of litigation, finance, bankruptcy, and creditors’ rights.  His work focuses on diverse interests in federal and bankruptcy court litigation and advice and risk assessment regarding transactional matters, including asset purchases, structured finance transactions, real estate workouts, foreclosures, and purchases and sales of distressed assets.

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