Thompson Hine is appealing the dismissal of its lawsuit against former client Smoking Everywhere Inc., which the firm accused of failing to pay nearly $500,000 in legal bills.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson issued a Jan. 9 order dismissing the case, finding that it had too few ties to Washington and, as a result, the court lacked jurisdiction to hear it. Thompson Hine filed notice on Friday that it plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Thompson Hine had argued that because the underlying case took place in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and involved Washington-based attorneys, the firm should have standing to sue in the local federal court.
Jackson found that because Smoking Everywhere, a Florida-based electronic cigarette manufacturer, entered into its original contract with Thompson Hine through the firm’s Georgia office, there weren’t sufficient contacts with Washington to allow the suit to be brought here.
"We respectfully disagree with the Court’s conclusion that we are not entitled to pursue unpaid fees in the same court where the bulk of the services were rendered,” the firm wrote in a statement about the appeal. Firm attorneys Eric Heyer, Taren Stanton, Thomas Feher and Kip Schwartz are handling the case.
Levi Zaslow of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake in Greenbelt, Md., a co-lead counsel for Smoking Everywhere, said in a phone interview Monday that “Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s thorough and comprehensive opinion really speaks for itself. The appellate court is going to see that as well.”
Thompson Hine represented Smoking Everywhere in the company’s challenge to restrictions placed on the import of Smoking Everywhere’s products by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The firm also represented Smoking Everywhere president and CEO Elicko Taieb in a related case in Oregon.
The firm sued Smoking Everywhere in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Nov. 2010, accusing the company and Taieb of failing to pay $480,745 in legal fees. Smoking Everywhere denied the allegation and moved to dismiss based on what the company argued was a lack of jurisdiction to bring the case in Washington.