As I've mentioned before, modern disputes about who defamed whom often turn into a rush to the courthouse. Such a rush is not necessarily prudent. In rushing, one can lose sight of probable consequences.
Just ask Jeremy Pitcock.
Who is Jeremy Pitcock? He's a New York lawyer. Last month he sued his former firm Kasowitz Benson for defamation based on the firm's announcement that he had been let go for "extremely inappropriate personal conduct." His suit claimed there was no inappropriate personal conduct, only a brief consensual kiss between Pitcock (a partner) and an associate. Pitcock demanded ELEVENTY MILLION DOLLARS. No, it was like $90 million or something equally ridiculous. Maybe for a few days there, Jeremy Pitcock felt like a king. He'd taken the fight to them!
Jeremy Pitcock, meet the other shoe.
Kasowitz Benson has hit back hard. Using the big guns at Sullivan & Cromwell, a firm even more insufferably stodgy than its name suggests, they've sued Pitcock for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and et cetera, largely on the theory that Pitcock breached his obligations to the firm by relentlessly harassing female associates. And boy, do they dish. Kasowitz Benson describes conduct towards associates identified only as "A" though "I" that, if true, is loathsome, predatory, and suggestive of some sort of grave personality disorder. The complaint is available through the link to Above the Law. In addition to laying out the allegations, it's got some really quality smackdowns: "Pitcock alleged in his federal lawsuit that he is a 'rising star in  litigation.' If so, he should have known there is no federal court subject matter jurisdiction over his lawsuit."
How bad is this for Pitcock? Well, judge by the jaw-dropping press release by Pitcock's lawyers at Balestriere Lanza, which manages to roll indignant, meandering, misogynist, argumentative, minimizing, and deranged into one gloriously entertaining release. This reads like Lanza dictated it to his secretary by screaming it into a cheap cell phone while pinned under a burning car in the Holland Tunnel after having neglected his meds for a few weeks. Just a taste:
Today Kasowitz continued their shameless and unwarranted smear campaign against Mr. Pitcock, essentially trying to take the position that predominantly old white men should be able to force female employees to make frivolous allegations of sexual harassment against a former partner under the guise of breach of contract and breach of fiduciary duty. Not only are these claims legally dubious, but they essentially require women to bring baseless claims of harassment against Mr. Pitcock when none of them apparently had any desire to do so. This usurps the statutory scheme of the federal government, which requires a complaint and investigation by the EEOC prior to a person filing suit for sexual harassment. These claims also willfully violate the confidentiality promised by Kasowitz to anyone who is required to participate in an "investigation" by the firm. Mr. Pitcock will have no choice but to point out the ridiculous nature and inconsistencies in these claims at trial, which will undoubtedly lead to professional embarassment not only for Kasowitz, but for the women involved.
Yes, they did just play the "we're going to make you look like a whore" card at the third-party victims. And the rest is almost as bad. If you read nothing else about this case, read that press release, which is roughly what you would expect if Amy Winehouse were doing your PR for you.
A couple more bad signs on the hard road facing Pitcock:
1. An intrepid commenter at Above the Law found an article suggesting that Pitcock once counter-protested an anti-sexual-harassment rally as part of a group called The New Right Wing.
While Erulkar spoke, eight MIT students at the fringes of the gathering held up signs with slogans such as "Quit Your Bitching," "She Wanted It," "Stop Harassment of Bitran," "Sore Loser," "Liar," and "Don't Flatter Yourself."
I think that rates an OMFG! Google: fear it, assholes everywhere.
2. Pitcock — who left Kasowitz to go to a new firm with great pomp and fanfare and reports that he was taking clients, which led Kasowitz to comment on him in the first place — is apparently now the Law Offices of Jeremy S. Pitcock. Except his "My Company" link still goes back to Kasowitz. Comedy!
So. Where did we begin?
1. Pitcock, think twice before suing next time. Are you happy you did at this point?
2. Kasowitz, you've got this guy running for cover now. But you've also handled the female associates what amounts to a roadmap for suing your ass for sexual harassment. Plus, you've just made your firm roughly as attractive for perspective female associates as the Law Offices of Creepy, Sweaty, and Stalky. Is it going to be worth it?
And seriously. If these allegations are true, then Pitcock didn't start acting like this overnight. Somebody has dropped many, many balls.
Hat Tip: Dave.
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