Crowley Fleck Sues Ex-Client to Preempt Malpractice Allegations

May 20, 2020, 4:48 PM

Montana law firm Crowley Fleck PLLP sued two private equity principals in Delaware, saying it wants to get out ahead of legal malpractice claims they’re threatening to bring over the firm’s work for an oilfield construction company.

The heavily redacted Chancery Court suit targets Travis Joyner and Craig Hurlbert, energy company executives who now lead Montana-based BrightMark Partners. It doesn’t name BrightMark as a defendant.

The suit seeks to debunk the “unfounded” claim by Joyner and Hurlbert that Crowley Fleck had conflicts of interest when it represented Loenbro Inc. in negotiations over a consulting agreement with them. Hurlbert was previously a Loenbro director.

The men have “repeatedly” alleged “unethical or illegal acts” by the firm in connection with that deal. But Hurlbert was never a client, and Joyner’s whole connection to Crowley Fleck consisted of having a single partner draft estate planning documents he never even executed, according to the complaint.

Moreover, both men signed a conflict waiver, and Joyner—an attorney with a doctorate who once held a corporate general counsel position—clearly knew what he was signing, the suit says.

Specifics about the deal negotiations are blacked out of the complaint, which was made public Tuesday after being filed under seal May 7. Public disclosure of additional details might violate attorney-client privilege, the suit says.

Cause of Action: Section 6501 of the Delaware Code.

Relief: A declaratory judgment; an injunction barring Joyner and Hurblert from suing; costs, and fees.

Response: Nonparty BrightMark didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Attorneys: Crowley Fleck is represented by Fox Rothschild LLP.

The case is Crowley Fleck PLLP v. Joyner, Del. Ch., No. 2020-0344, complaint unsealed 5/19/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mike Leonard in Washington at mleonard@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com

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