- law firms
- The lawyer says she is being forced to settle claims against her former employer
- The former employer’s lawyer says the lawyer should be sanctioned
(Reuters) – A federal judge in San Francisco said on Thursday she would open a request for arbitration by a San Francisco attorney against her former employer, the Redgrave law firm, and her attorney, the national labor law firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, but said , the lawyer could amend her complaint.
US District Judge Laurel Beeler said during a hearing that she does not have jurisdiction over Attorney Karen Hourigan’s claims against Redgrave and Ogletree. However, she said she would give Hourigan time to change her claims.
“I’m confident that’s the right answer, but you should have the opportunity to change it,” Beeler said. She added that she will issue a written decision soon.
Hourigan accused Redgrave and Ogletree of attempting to force them into arbitration based on a partnership agreement with Redgrave that she never signed, which violates both California law and a federal statute that requires mandatory arbitration of claims because of it prohibits sexual harassment by employees.
The lawsuit does not describe Hourigan’s underlying labor claims against the Redgrave company.
Hourigan, who is representing herself, said she is in the process of seeking legal counsel. She also hinted that she could add new claims against the defendants.
During the hearing, Beeler questioned whether Ogletree should be a defendant in Hourigan’s lawsuit. The employment law firm has argued that Hourigan is trying to fine Redgrave for choosing Ogletree as his attorney and that Hourigan should be sanctioned. She called her complaint a “classic example” of a strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP). Hourigan has also sought sanctions in response.
Beeler said she will not impose sanctions just yet.
Neither Hourigan nor Ogletree’s attorneys, who represent both her firm and Redgrave, immediately responded to a request for comment.
The case is Hourigan v. Redgrave, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, 3:22-cv-04303
For Karen Hourigan: yourself
For Redgrave and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart: Vince Verde and Lori Winland of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart
Redgrave, Ogletree firms sued by ex-partner over offer to arbitrate
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