Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice is facing a legal malpractice suit from a Catholic radio broadcaster and education group that alleges mistakes by the firm cost it millions of dollars.
The North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation alleges that Womble missed crucial deadlines and made other mistakes that caused the foundation to lose its bids for several telecommunications channels and new broadcast licenses. The bids were made in small markets, such as Eureka, Calif., as well as larger cities such as Las Vegas and Toledo, Ohio.
The foundation’s complaint, filed last week at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by a legal team from Zuckerman Spaeder—including Mark Foster, Thomas Mason and Andrew Goldfarb—names Womble as well as former Womble attorney Howard Barr as defendants. Womble’s general counsel declined to comment on the suit, but a secretary at its Washington office said Barr had not worked at the firm in more than a year. No new contact details for Barr could immediately be found.
The foundation’s allegations stretch back to an application it filed in 1994 to acquire four new telecommunications channels in Henderson, Nev., just outside Las Vegas. When the Federal Communications Commission rejected the application in 2004, handing the channels to a competitor instead, the foundation instructed Womble to file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The firm allegedly filed after 32 days — two days past the deadline. The appeals court dismissed the filing as untimely.
“But for Defendants’ errors, the Court of Appeals would have considered the substance of NACEPF’s appeal and would have vacated the FCC’s decision,” the complaint states. “Defendants’ errors in connection with the license application for the Las Vegas market injured NACEPF and caused it to suffer millions of dollars in damages.”
The complaint goes on to list a series of alleged missed deadlines and botched applications between 2004 and 2007. Its counts include legal malpractice, breach of contract, breach of implied duty and breach of fiduciary duty, and it asks for unspecified damages.