By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, Jan 23 (Reuters) - A New York appeals court has
upheld the dismissal of a $77 million lawsuit against Kasowitz
Benson Torres & Friedman filed by a lawyer who claimed he was
fired after touting his "superior legal mind" in an email to the
In a single-sentence ruling, a unanimous panel at the
Appellate Division, First Department, on Tuesday affirmed
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Eileen Bransten's decision in
January 2012 to toss the complaint of former first-year
associate Gregory Berry.
The panel cited a severance agreement Berry signed with the
firm upon his departure.
"Plaintiff's claims are barred by the release and were
properly dismissed," the appeals court wrote.
Berry, who is now practicing as a solo attorney, claimed the
firm fired him in May 2011, days after he emailed partners to
ask for more responsibility.
"It has become clear that I have as much experience and
ability as an associate many years my senior, as much skill
writing and a superior legal mind to most I have met," his email
said, according to the complaint. He was subsequently told by a
partner that he had "burned bridges" with his email, the lawsuit
He accused the firm of behaving unethically, inflicting
emotional distress and attempting to ruin his career.
Kasowitz responded in court papers that Berry had breached a
confidential severance agreement that paid him $27,000 in
exchange for a release waiving any claims against the firm.
Berry said in an email statement that the release he signed
did not "bar actions to enforce the agreement itself" and that
the firm had breached the agreement.
"As the court did not justify their decision, it is
difficult to comment further," he said.
The lawyer for Kasowitz who argued the case, Joseph Piesco,
did not immediately return a request for comment.
The panel included Justices David Friedman, Dianne Renwick,
Sallie Manzanet-Daniels, Nelson Roman and Darcel Clark.
The case is Berry v. Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman,
Appellate Division, First Department, No. 9051.
For Berry: Pro se.
For Kasowitz: Joseph Piesco of Kasowitz Benson Torres &
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