Pond Lehocky Fires Back, Bars Stern From Firm in Partnership Dispute
Monday, December 16, 2019 | 1852 | 0 | 12 min read
A founding partner at Pennsylvania's largest claimants' law firm has been locked out of the building and his name removed from company materials in a dispute that could end up dissolving the business.
David Stern, a founder of the powerhouse firm Pond, Lehocky, Stern, Giordano in Philadelphia, filed suit last month against the other partners, asking a judge to appoint a receiver to oversee an equitable dissolution of the organization.
Now, Sam Pond and the firm have responded to the complaint and appear to have escalated the war of words.
“The partnership has voted to expel you from the partnership as per the partnership agreement,” managing partner Sam Pond wrote in an email to Stern on Tuesday, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Please do not enter the premises of any Pond Lehocky offices or attend any Pond Lehocky events."
The firm has reportedly contacted Stern's clients, telling them that he is no longer with the group. Stern's lawyer told the newspaper that the firm's emails are sowing confusion and concern.
“The Pond defendants have made it appear that Stern’s whereabouts are ‘unknown,’ causing some clients to believe Stern has been physically harmed and others to believe he stopped practicing law and otherwise causing extreme confusion and upsetment amongst his clients,” wrote Stern’s attorney, Benjamin Garber, who added that some Stern clients “have informed Stern that they ‘love him’ and are extremely confused by the notices.”
The newspaper, which has covered Pond Lehocky's political connections and its previous ownership of a compounding pharmacy, said the court filings read “like an alternative version of 'Lord of the Flies,' where the boys grew up and started wearing suits.”
In an answer to Stern's lawsuit, filed Wednesday, Pond, Lehocky and Giordano said the partnership agreement requires that the dispute be sent to arbitration. The firm is represented by Abraham Reich and Theodore Jobes, of Philadelphia.
Stern said in his lawsuit complaint that he had rejected as “absurd” a demand by Sam Pond that he leave the firm and pay it $200,000. Stern argues that the firm, known throughout the Philadelphia area for its billboards and for its advertising at Philadelphia Eagles pro football games, is worth some $90 million and that he has a 32% stake in that.
Pond now says Stern owes the firm approximately $311,000, according to the news report.
The relationship between Stern and Pond, who, along with Jerry Lehocky founded the firm in 2010, has deteriorated in recent months, largely because of Pond's management of the firm and demand for a larger share of the profits, Stern's complaint said.
Pond has said the firm is disappointed in the lawsuit but remains committed to assisting injured workers.