For the second time this year, a Mississippi jury has awarded a verdict in excess of one hundred million dollars. Earlier this year, Ford was handed a $131 million dollar verdict in Jasper County, Mississippi. Last week, a Jones County, Mississippi jury rendered a $103 million dollar verdict against Baker & McKenzie, a Chicago based law firm. Mississippi blogger Philip Thomas of Mississippi Litigation Review first published reports of the verdict. The judgment was also entered against one of its partners, Joel Held. Baker & McKenzie has been ranked by the American Lawyers Global 100 Issue as the largest law firm in the world (based on gross revenue) with 2009 gross revenues of $2.104 billion dollars.
The suit was brought by S. Lavon Evans, Jr. who owned a drilling company. Evans was introduced to Mr. Held by Reed Cagle who was already being represented by Mr. Held. The complaint alleged that Mr. Held and his firm represented the two business partners simultaneously but ultimately acted to benefit Mr. Cagle at the expense of Mr. Evans. As a result of the alleged conflict, Mr. Evans claimed that his assets were used to obtain millions of dollars in loans for his insolvent business partner Mr. Cagle. According to the Plaintiff’s allegations, after he discovered the schemed, the Defendants engaged in a litigation strategy designed to destroy him. He accused the Defendants of working with Mr. Cagle to create separate legal entities which enabled his partner to use his collateral without the knowledge of the Plaintiff. He sued for actual damages of $150 million dollars.
According to published reports, Baker & McKenzie and Mr. Held disagree with the verdict and plan to appeal.