A unanimous panel of the Appellate Division, First Department, yesterday affirmed the dismissal of a $77 million wrongful termination suit against Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman brought by an ex-associate, Gregory Berry. Berry worked in the software industry for 15 years before going to the University of Pennsylvania Law School. After graduating in 2010, he was hired by Kasowitz, but was fired after less than a year.
According to his suit, Berry took the job because he was told that Kasowitz gave associates a high degree of freedom and responsibility. However, he said those representations proved false, and he was fired for asking for more responsibility in an email in which he wrote, among other things, that "after working here for several months now it has become clear that I have as much experience and ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill writing, and a superior legal mind to most I have met."
Kasowitz argued that the suit must be dismissed because Berry had signed a release as part of a $27,000 severance agreement. Berry countered that his severance payment was 15 days late and $600 of it was never paid. Nonetheless, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten (See Profile) dismissed the case last January.
The appeals panel affirmed in Berry v. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman, 652274/11, a two-sentence unsigned opinion by Justices David Friedman (See Profile), Dianne Renwick (See Profile), Sallie Manzanet-Daniels (See Profile), Nelson Roman (See Profile) and Darcel Clark (See Profile). "Plaintiff's claims are barred by the release and were properly dismissed," the panel wrote.
Berry said in an email that he had a right to sue because the firm had not honored the agreement, and that he would file a motion to reargue.