Edwardsville attorney suing to prevent former partner from collecting on Big Sky settlement

Amelia Flood Sep. 13, 2010, 9:38am

Edwardsville attorney Glenn Bradford is suing his former law partner, asking the court to prevent him from collecting parts of a multi-million dollar class action settlement and other fees.

In a suit filed Sept. 10 in Madison County, Bradford claims his former law partner, John Barberis, failed to bill the hours needed pay his part of their law partnership's expenses for eight years.

Barberis and Bradford formed the law partnership of Barberis & Bradford in February 2001.

Bradford recently was among the attorneys that secured settlements in the long-running Big Sky telecommunications class action and a suit against the makers of the acne drug, Accutane.

According to Bradford's suit, when he and Barberis formed the law partnership, Barberis agreed he would produce hourly fees sufficient to pay its expenses.

Bradford alleges that Barberis has failed to produce the fees since 2002.

He claims that on more than one occasion Barberis was told he would need to generate more fees and that he assured Bradford he would do so.

The two agreed three years ago that Barberis would bill $1,000 a week or five hours at $200 up to $52,000 a year.

The complaint alleges that Barberis had only generated $4,811 in fees by May 12, 2010.

The Barberis and Bradford partnership was dissolved in August after Bradford notified Barberis again of his failure to meet his obligations under their agreement.

Bradford alleges Barberis did not meet his billable hours marks, did not handle his cases in a timely manner, was inattentive to clients, and that he was in the partnership's office less than 20 hours a week.

As a result, the firm was required to refund retainers, Bradford claims.

The complaint specifically cites the Big Sky case and its settlement as the point where Barberis ceased to be involved with his firm.

The Big Sky case was brought by lead plaintiff Big Sky Excavating against AT&T over botched refunds ordered by the state legislature in 2001.

The company had been ordered to refund $90 million in overcharges.
Big Sky led a class of small business owners who claimed the company mistakenly sent out refunds to the wrong customers.

The suit settled for $21 million and attorneys' fees totaled $7 million.

The settlement was approved by Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack July 12.

Bradford asks the court to rule that Barberis is not entitled to any of the partnership funds including those acquired after the partnership split. This is to include the Big Sky fees.

Bradford also asks the court to order Barberis to pay his share of the partnership's debts and reimburse the plaintiff for any debts incurred due to the defendant's conduct.

In the alternative, the plaintiff asks the court to divide the monies generated after the Aug. 12 break-up.

Bradford's complaint includes four counts of breach of partnership, promissory estoppel, equitable estoppel and fraudulent misrepresentation.

Shaun Lieser and D. Jeffrey Ezra of Ezra & Associates LLC of Collinsville represent Bradford.

The case is Madison case number 10-L-939.

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