Patton Boggs is facing a breach of contract lawsuit filed yesterday by a former client who has accused the firm of marketing a competitor's products when it was supposed to be marketing the client for potential business with the federal government.
MB Industries LLC, or MBI, a Louisiana-based company that builds blast-resistant buildings, hired Patton Boggs in December 2008 to help the company "become a major player" with agencies within the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and to otherwise expand its business, according to the complaint (PDF) filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
By the summer of 2009, however, MBI claimed that two company employees who had worked with Patton Boggs on the marketing plan left the firm for a competitor company. Starting around the time they left, MBI alleged, Patton Boggs senior defense policy adviser retired Col. John Garrett began marketing the competitor company's products and, on at least one occasion, made negative comments about MBI.
MBI claimed in its complaint that while Garrett and Patton Boggs did make efforts between December 2008 and July 2009 to market the company to the federal government and for international contacts, those efforts were rendered "meaningless" by what happened afterward.
Patton Boggs, through a spokesman, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Lead counsel for MBI, Seth Robbins of Seeger in Washington, and an MBI representative could not be reached for comment.
MBI is suing the firm for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of the implied duty of good faith and fair dealing. The company is seeking back the nearly $82,000 they paid Patton Boggs as well as $500,000 in punitive damages.
"Defendant intentionally and maliciously breached its contract by, among other things, marketing a competing business instead of MBI and by disparaging MBI to potential customers," MBI claimed in its complaint.
The case is before U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.