The legal battle between Yolanda Young and her former law firm, Covington & Burling, came to an abrupt halt today, when a federal judge dismissed the case after Young and her lawyer failed to show up in court.
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia threw out the discrimination suit for lack of prosecution after Young and her lawyer, Latif Doman of Doman Davis, turned up missing this morning at the case’s first status conference.
In his official order this afternoon, the judge explained his decision by citing a long list of Young’s missteps, including “her failure to abide by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Local Rules by not responding to motions and other deadlines, and conducting herself in a manner that has impeded the defendants’ ability to defend against this action.”
Young said she was not ready to comment on today’s developments. The former Covington staff attorney filed suit against her one-time employer in February, alleging that the firm discriminated against its black lawyers. She also alleged that she was the target of racially insensitive remarks and suffered retaliation when she complained.
Before filing her suit, she wrote about her time at Covington in an essay on the Huffington Post titled “Law Firm Segregation Reminiscent of Jim Crow.”
Covington denied all of Young’s allegations, and last month Walton dismissed Young’s claims against two of the firm’s lawyers. Earlier this month the judge warned her that failing to make court dates could lead to the case being dismissed.
“I’m not going to pretend I expected it,” said Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld partner Michele Roberts, who led Covington’s defense team, of today’s no-show. “But in retrospect, frankly, as the judge pointed out in the order, this case was not being too vigorously prosecuted.”
So is this the end of the Yolanda Young controversy? Possibly not. Walton dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning there’s still a chance for her to re-file.