Michael Hausfeld seems to have scored another victory in his ongoing battle with his old firm, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.
As you may recall, last November Cohen Milstein sent its antitrust star packing with note taped to his office chair. Since his defenestration, Hausfeld has taken up arms in the way only a jilted law partner can: by going after his old firms fees and cases.
This month, he appears to have won another round of the faceoff, grabbing the role of lead counsel in an antitrust case against the country’s four largest rail lines. Cohen Milstein had argued that although Hausfeld had technically led their efforts on the case, their other attorneys had logged far more hours on it, and deserved to stay on as lead.
No matter, said Judge Paul Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The judge found that making Cohen Milstein co-lead “would provide no particular benefit to the class, and in fact might be inefficient and add to the expense of this already expensive litigation.”
Friedman went on to note that Hausfeld had the unanimous support of the other lawyers in the case, including co-lead Stephen Neuwirth of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, and that several firms had stepped aside to let Hausfeld and Neuwirth lead the class. Subbing in Cohen Milstein could throw off “the delicate equilibrium” of the leadership agreement, he said.
The opinion included some choice language from Steven Kanner of Much Shelist Freed Denenberg & Ament, whose firm is on the case’s executive committee.
“My firm’s support for this proposal was entirely and absolutely contingent on our understanding that Mr. Hausfeld would be leading this action on behalf of his firm,” he wrote. “I and my partners viewed CMHT’s antitrust practice and Mr. Hausfeld as synonymous. The reason we chose not to seek our own leadership appointment in this case was because of our respect for, and confidence in, Mr. Hausfeld.”