A Toronto litigation and corporate law boutique has sued a former partner in the firm for $9 million after a dispute over a contingency fee client.
BTZ alleges Nguyen breached his contract and fiduciary duty to the firm when he “improperly solicited” some of its clients to come with him when he resigned in early 2015, including Indcondo Building Corporation, a property development company with a $20-million claim against its one-time business partner.
But in a statement of defence and counterclaim also filed with the court, Nguyen denies the claims and demands $1.1 million from BTZ, alleging the firm still owes him for work he did on the Indcondo file, as well as a 25-per-cent cut of any fees the firm collects on the matter.
None of the allegations in either document have been proven in court.
Nguyen tells Law Times that “my lawyer has advised me not to comment while the litigation is pending;” a sentiment echoed by BTZ’s co-managing partner Peter Brauti.
“As this matter is currently before the courts, it is our practice not to comment on the litigation,” he said in a statement.
Indcondo retained Nguyen on a contingency fee basis in 2007 while he was still a Toronto-based sole practitioner to help it collect on an $8-million judgment it had achieved following a shareholder dispute with former business partner David Robin Sloan. Although the judgment was delivered back in 2001, Indcondo had run into trouble enforcing it thanks to Sloan’s bankruptcy and subsequent discharge. But with interest accumulating at a rate of 15 per cent per year, by 2015, the value of the judgment had ballooned to more than $20 million.