A Rotating Fleet of Law Firms?
Pierce Bainbridge LLP, Hecht Partners LLP, Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP & The Boeing 737 Max Litigation
“[B]ut I will say that this is one of the more, frankly, bizarre situations I’ve ever been involved in.”~ Attorney for Southwest Airlines, during a May 13, 2020 hearing.
- The on-goings and alleged on-goings in the Boeing 737 Max Litigation are of the “truth is stranger than fiction” variety.
- Lies. Intimidation. Deceiving clients. Deceptively splicing messages.
- Warning of a potential report to the Bar.
- And, if things weren’t crazy enough, John Pierce surfaced this week and says he wants in, with a third named law firm, after his initial firm, and its “successor” firm, disappeared from the case.
Little did the Southwest attorney know, the “bizarre” was just beginning. John Pierce is the founder of the Rudy Giuliani hired Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP; a law firm with a reported debt of approximately $70 million. In eighteen months, three firms run by either John Pierce or David L. Hecht — both named partners at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht— have appeared on behalf of plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, Co. and The Boeing Company (the “Boeing 737 Max Litigation”). A fourth law firm, of just Pierce and one associate, has represented Kyle Rittenhouse, was involved with Atlanta attorney Lin Wood, but has not appeared in the Boeing litigation. Be that as it may, the counsel activity in the case perhaps evokes images of a rotating fleet of law firms.
Indeed, the case signature blocks in the cover photo tell a little tale all by themselves. A timeline of events tells a good deal more.
July 12, 2019: The complaint is filed. A press release announces that “Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP has filed a. . . class action lawsuit against Southwest Airlines, Co. and The Boeing Company.” Pierce Bainbridge attorneys Yavaar Bathaee and Brian Dunne are quoted in the release, they eventually left to start their own firm, Bathaee Dunne LLP.
March 20, 2020: Hecht Partners is formed. Hecht “resigns” and forms a spin-off firm where all of the partners were also partners at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht.
April 15, 2020: A motion to withdraw is filed. Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht files to withdraw from, or quit, the Boeing case.
April 22, 2020: $65 million debt. This massive Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht debt to litigation funder Virage Capital is not the focus of this article, but it appears to be very much a part of this Boeing 737 Max Litigation story. Virage funded both Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht and Hecht Partners related to the case, in an aggregate amount apparently in the millions of dollars. (Additional information about Virage is included here, here and here. )
May 13, 2020: Hecht says the withdrawal was “filed in error.” A month after the withdrawal was filed, and two months after Hecht said he resigned, Hecht surfaces on behalf of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht and says the withdrawal motion was “in fact, filed in error.” This is the hearing the Southwest attorney characterized as “bizarre.”
May 18, 2020. Hecht is accused of lying to the Boeing court. The ex-associate who filed the withdrawal, accuses Hecht of making “numerous statements of material fact” to the court “which are inaccurate,” and accuses an outside attorney connected to Hecht of trying to “intimidate” the ex-associate and “hamper [his] efforts to correct the record.” A related Law360 article is titled: “Ex-Pierce Atty Says Colleague Lied In Boeing Max 8 Hearing.”
June 4, 2020. Ex-colleagues say Hecht did not work on the Boeing case. The Bathaee Dunne attorneys — quoted in the press release — say Hecht should not be involved in the Boeing litigation because billing statements showed that he never worked on the case. Hecht is the “attorney” referenced below.
June 5, 2020. David “90 Hours” Hecht. Hecht e-mailed Bathaee Dunne the next day claiming he had worked on the case, but just forgot to bill his time. (Attorneys “bill” or “record” time for each specific case worked on in a given day. Hecht’s e-mail, captured in the screenshot, is akin to saying: “Oops, I forgot to punch the clock.”)
June 11, 2020: Hecht Partners says it’s a “successor” to Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht. Earlier in the same month, Hecht had signed in the Boeing case:
- on behalf of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht (June 1),
- then on behalf of Hecht Partners (June 4), and
- then again on behalf of Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht (June 8).
Now on June 11, a Hecht Partners filing begins: “Hecht Partners LLP (“HP”), as successor to Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP (“PB”) in connection with this action. . .”
June 22, 2020. John Pierce says Hecht Partners is “of counsel” to Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht. This was a response to the airlines challenging whether Hecht Partners had “authority to act” as “successor” counsel to Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht.
June 22, 2020. “Hecht and Lorin remain at PB.” A Hecht Partners filing says that Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht COO, Camille Varlack, said Hecht and Lorin “remain” at the firm. This is almost three months after Hecht’s purported “resignation.”
(These June 22, 2020 filings appear at odds with Hecht Partners counsel saying less than a month earlier that the two law firms were “entirely separate firms.”)
August 19, 2020. Client Valerie Mortz-Rogers says Hecht “kinda deceived me because how he done it.” Mortz-Rogers is now an ex-client of Hecht Partners, the testimony below is about her signing with the firm. The references to “Speckman” and “Hechtman” are references to David Hecht.
August 21, 2020. Client Damonie Earl says Hecht deceived him. Earl is now an ex-client; the testimony is about Earl signing an agreement with Hecht Partners.
September 16, 2020. Client Alesa Beck says Hecht was untruthful. Beck is also now an ex-client of Hecht Partners.
November 15, 2020. Other counsel said they may report Hecht to the bar. A Bathaee Dunne filing covers the deception of clients, warning about a report to the Bar and an accusation of deceptively splicing messages, all directed at David L. Hecht.
Like we said, the “bizarre” was just getting started back on May 13.
There is still more.
John Pierce popped up this week and wants in on the Boeing 737 Max Litigation — with a now third named firm, “Pierce Bainbridge LLP.”
Before we take a closer look, let’s recap the Boeing case history of Pierce’s firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, and its “successor firm” Hecht Partners; we have:
- the withdrawal motion that was allegedly “filed in error,” purportedly due in part to Covid-19
- accusations of Hecht lies and related intimidation
- the David “90 Hours” Hecht I forget to punch the clock issue
- the flip-flopping signatures for Hecht — Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht one day, Hecht Partners LLP another day, and then back to Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP another day and then back over to Hecht Partners LLP
- the ex-clients testifying under oath that Hecht duped them into signing with Hecht Partners LLP.
- the accusation of Hecht deceptively splicing messages
- the apparent warning of Hecht potentially being reported to the bar
And then we have Pierce and his issues, for example, we have learned that Pierce:
- had a domestic violence restraining order against him in mid-2019
- as of November 2019 owed: (i) $90,000 to Citibank, (2) $27,000 to his ex-wife’s mother and (iii) owed over $1 million in taxes; and
- claims he as in rehab for “substance abuse and other addictive behaviors” less than a year ago, and
- has been spending time pushing Kyle Rittenhouse merchandise, including “bikinis and yoga pants.”
Pierce said on Wednesday that numerous class plaintiffs were “originated by Pierce Bainbridge [Beck Price & Hecht LLP] and have continued to retain Pierce Bainbridge, which is party to a co-counseling agreement with Bathaee Dunne LLP (the “CCA”). Then Pierce explained more. . .
So, to recap, John Pierce’s firm Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP:
- was on the Boeing 737 Max Litigation
- filed to withdraw from, or quit, the case
- then claimed the filing was done in error
- then disappeared from the case
- then said Hecht Partners was a “successor” on the case, and
- then Hecht Partners was off the case, after the firm’s own clients said they were deceived by David Hecht into signing up with his firm.
Now, Pierce with “Pierce Bainbridge LLP” wants back in on a major class action, a case with which Pierce himself appears to have had no personal working involvement.
And, for good measure, just a few months ago Pierce quit on his clients in the middle of ongoing litigation. What was the excuse? Understaffed and overwhelmed. Read the key paragraphs from Pierce’s own declaration dated October 13, 2020.
Yet, John Pierce wants in on the Boeing 737 Max Litigation.
With yet a firm operating under a third name, Pierce Bainbridge LLP.
When Pierce has personally done nothing discernible on the case.
And when Pierce just begged off another case declaring under oath that his two-person firm Pierce Bainbridge P.C., a fourth firm, was overwhelmed.
It’s also worth noting the same Los Angeles-based Pierce would presumably need the court’s blessing to practice in Texas where the Boeing case is venued. Pierce has faced oppositions to two such applications in the last several months— one in New York, and one in Wisconsin — and both times withdrew his application rather than provide the courts an opportunity to rule.
The high profile Boeing 737 Max Litigation proceeds, while a separate $2.5 billion Boeing settlement has been in the news. It will be interesting to see how the attorneys who have worked thousands of hours on the case for over eighteen months will respond to Pierce’s latest gambit.