Editors' Note: This article has been updated to reflect a Correction.
A suit accusing Leslie Corwin, a partner at Greenberg Traurig and the firm, of deceiving a Manhattan court in a lawsuit over a hedge fund member's compensation has been dismissed by a state appeals panel, which held that the suit was time-barred.
In reversing the lower court, a 3-2 Appellate Division, First Department, panel held that the alleged injury had accrued from the first sign of deception, more than three years before the case was filed, and that subsequent alleged deceptions were not grounds for extending the statute of limitations.
James Melcher, the plaintiff in Melcher v. Greenberg Traurig, 2013 NY Slip Op 00256, is a former member of hedge fund Apollo Medical Fund Management. In 2003, he sued Apollo and its principal, Brandon Fradd, seeking a share of the fund's profits that he claimed he was owed. Corwin represented Apollo and Fradd.
Fradd countered that the suit should be dismissed because of a 1998 amendment to Melcher's membership agreement that had reduced his share of the profits.
In 2004, Melcher asked Fradd and Apollo to produce the document. Fradd claimed that he could not produce the document because he had burned it while making tea. Fradd did produce a badly burned document purporting to be the amendment. Melcher asked a forensic expert to analyze it to see if it was a back-dated forgery, but the expert said it was too damaged to analyze.
Fradd and Apollo ultimately withdrew their claim that there had been an amendment. The case went to trial in 2009, and Melcher won a verdict of about $500,000. He is now appealing that verdict in the First Department, seeking a larger award.
In 2007, Melcher sued Corwin and Greenberg Traurig, alleging that they tried to help Fradd deceive the court.
According to the suit, Corwin failed to tell Melcher and his counsel at a 2004 meeting that Fradd claimed to have burned the document, saying only that they were holding it in escrow.
They also claimed that Corwin had said that he verified the authenticity of the amendment with Jack Governale, now an attorney at Katten Muchin Rosenman, who drafted the amendment in 1998. In 2005, however, Governale was deposed and testified that he knew nothing of the amendment, according to the suit.
Corwin said that another attorney who supposedly had knowledge of the amendment, James Beckwith, "resisted" Corwin's efforts to contact him, but in 2007 Beckwith was deposed and testified that he had told Fradd he was willing to talk to Corwin.