Ex-Novak Partners Ink Wage Deal, Eye Polsinelli To Collect

Ex-Novak Partners Ink Wage Deal, Eye Polsinelli To Collect

By Kat Greene

Law360, Los Angeles (July 11, 2017, 6:44 PM EDT) — Two former Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLPpartners have inked a $500,000 settlement in their wage dispute with the troubled firm, and their attorney told Law360 on Tuesday he may pursue their former partners or Polsinelli PC, where many moved, in order to collect.

Former non-equity partners Marcus Hall and Dean Morehous netted the deal with Novak Druce in their 2015 suit accusing the firm of failing to make 2014 holdback or bonus payments and then ceasing to pay the duo altogether after they complained, according to a June 30 judgment.

But just how to collect that judgment is its own problem, Hall and Morehous’ attorney Ara Jabagchourian told Law360 on Tuesday.

The leadership of Novak Druce, including name partners Gregory Novak and Tracy Druce, departed for Polsinelli in March 2016, leaving behind a shell of the former firm. So now Hall and Morehous — two of several former Novak Druce lawyers who’ve accused the firm of cheating them out of pay — are considering seeking payout on their judgment from Polsinelli, Jabagchourian said.

“They essentially took all the assets of [Novak Druce] … and left an empty shell behind,” Jabagchourian said of Polsinelli. “What astonishes me is that these guys left a lot of people high and dry and didn’t think twice about it.”

Hall and Morehous sued in San Francisco Superior Court in August 2015, alleging Novak Druce owed Hall $300,550 and Morehous $164,707.

The two former Novak Druce attorneys had been gearing up for trial when their former firm decided to settle with them, agreeing to pay Hall $250,000, Morehous $150,000, and $100,000 for their attorneys’ fees.

The pair are mulling whether to pursue Polsinelli for the funds, treating the mass lateral hire as a de facto merger, or to push all the former Novak Druce partners into involuntary bankruptcy to collect their judgment, according to their attorney.

Novak Druce’s website still exists but has been stripped bare, and an email to the address provided on site was returned as undeliverable.

A spokeswoman for Polsinelli and an attorney for Novak Druce didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.

Novak Druce struggled for years before the move to Polsinelli. The firm steadily lost partners since the merger between Novak Druce & Quigg LLP — founded by six former Howrey LLP attorneys in 2005 — and Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP in January 2013. An ex-partner in Delaware sued the firm in April 2016, saying he was owed nearly $20,000 in back pay.

Then in March 2016, Polsinelli PC’s shareholders voted to approve the mass lateral acquisition of 44 of Novak Druce’s roughly 80 attorneys, including name partners Novak and Druce.

Hall and Morehous are represented by Ara Ray Jabagchourian of the Law Offices of Ara Jabagchourian.

Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP is represented by Diane B. Sherman of the Law Offices of Diane B. Sherman.

The case is Marcus T. Hall v. Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP, case number CGC-15-547383, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco.