$120,000 in legal fees and expenses paid on behalf of our client.
Charles Jacquin, Et. Cie., Inc. (“Jacquins”) is a Philadelphia based wholesaler of liquor and food products which are distributed around the world. For nearly 30 years, our client was the full-time CFO of Jacquins. Norton Cooper is the CEO and President of Charles Jacquin, Et. Cie., Inc. and its parent company, Chatam International Incorporated.
Our client played a critical role in helping grow the family of companies from a $13 million operation to one that was able to sell just one of its many brands of liquor for $255 million dollars. The remaining liquor and food brands and assets and operations of Jacquins and related companies are worth today approximately $150 million dollars.
Without any basis, Norton Cooper concluded that millions of dollars were missing from the company and falsely blamed our client. This erroneous conclusion led Cooper to fire our client and sue him for Fraud, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Waste, and Negligence.
Our client Counterclaimed, and filed a separate action against Chatam and Cooper, for Defamation. The actions were consolidated.
As a result of his position as an officer of Jacquins, our client was entitled to be indemnified under the Bylaws of the company for the cost of defending any lawsuit and/or judgment entered against him which stemmed from his employment with Jacquins. The company contested our client’s right to indemnification and a panel of arbitrators was impaneled to determine the issue. Our client prevailed in this collateral proceeding when it was ordered that Jacquins was required to advance to our client all legal fees and costs associated with defending himself against Jacquins claims.
Jacquins attempted by preliminary objection and summary judgment to have our client’s Defamation claim dismissed on the grounds that Cooper’s defamation of our client was done in connection with a “pre-litigation investigation” and thus privileged. Both the preliminary objections and summary judgment motion were denied.
Jacquins also attempted to shield from discovery all information generated by a forensic accountant brought in to investigate Cooper’s allegations against our client. This effort failed, however, and the forensic accountant was ordered by the Court to turn over his entire file. The accountant’s file revealed that a massive, worldwide embezzlement investigation had been conducted which had turned up absolutely no evidence of fraud or theft, or even missing money.
When deposed, Norton Cooper ultimately admitted that all allegations of fraud and theft in Jacquins’ Complaint were in fact entirely false.
The case was scheduled for trial but the parties agreed to a binding arbitration. One week before the scheduled arbitration, however, Jacquins voluntarily dismissed its lawsuit against our client in its entirety (with prejudice), and agreed to pay all remaining legal fees and costs incurred by our client in defense of Jacquins’ allegations. Our client agreed to withdraw his Defamation claim, but specifically preserved his right to bring all other claims he has against Jacquins as a result of its false lawsuit against him.
Attorney for the defense – Andrew P. Baratta of Baratta, Russell & Baratta