Everything you need to know about the lawyer-on-lawyer lawsuit pitting former Baron & Budd attorney Gary Cruciani against Russell Budd and his namesake firm you'll find in this April 21 story in Texas Lawyer by John Council.
But, to recap: Cruciani alleged that in 2006, Baron & Budd made "negligent and fraudulent misrepresentations" to get him to sign on with the well-known Oak Lawn firm that hangs its rep on "championing the rights of people and communities harmed by corporate misconduct." Baron & Budd then countersued and made it quite personal: Wrote Council, Cruciani "was told he would not be promoted to shareholder at the end of that year 'because of his interactions with female employees,'" a charge he vehemently denied.
So here's the new stuff: A little while ago in Judge Martin Hoffman's courtroom at the George Allen, the jury returned with its verdict in favor of Cruciani, now at McKool Smith. And it's quite the verdict at that -- one worth $8.7 million. Word of the verdict, handed down just a couple of hours ago, has spread like spilled oil amongst local legal types: We found out about it after a few attorneys gave us a holy-cow heads-up. They were amazed not that Cruciani had won, but by the amount.
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"We thought we were going to win," Cruciani's attorney, Jim Hartnett Jr., tells Unfair Park. "We thought their counterclaims were close to frivolous. There's always risk with a jury trial, and we weren't counting our chickens, but we felt good about it." But Hartnett knows this is far from over:
Baron & Budd will challenge the verdict with the judge, then file an appeal. "And they've got all the money you could need to fight something like this for a long time."
Still, in this case pitting Cruciani against one of the biggest firms in town, Hartnett says his client feels, if nothing else, vindicated.
"I think to say he's elated would overstate it," Hartnett says. "Gary thought he was in the right and justice would prevail. He fully expected he would win."