Roger Parloff, senior editor at Fortune Magazine, has penned this odd ode to Podhurst lawyer Steven Marks:
The good news is that a Moscow judge adjourned Tuesday’s scheduled pretrial hearing in Russia’s dubious $22.5 billion suit against the Bank of New York Mellon to allow the parties to pursue settlement talks. The agency bringing the suit, the Russian Federal Customs Service, had requested the talks in a short letter that the bank’s lawyers received Friday.
The bad news is that an anonymous “Russian government” source has been quoted in the Russian newspaper Kommersant as suggesting that $800 million would be a reasonable figure for resolving the suit.
On top of many other reasons why Russia’s suit, which has extortionate overtones, must not be permitted to succeed — see my September feature story in FORTUNE, “Bank of New York’s $22.5 Billion Headache” — there’s now a capper. Last October the bank, at the U.S. Treasury’s bidding, accepted $3 billion in TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) money.
Are taxpayers now going to watch more than a quarter of that money go to Russia to pay off a fishy-smelling suit? And even if taxpayers could stomach that, are they prepared to then see 29% of the $800 million — $232 million — pass through to American lawyer Steven Marks of Miami’s Podhurst Orseck, who represents victims in many airplane crash cases and who has been Russia’s contingent-fee trial counsel in the weird case? Court records show that that’s what Marks’s retainer agreement calls for him to receive. Marks did not return emails seeking comment.
No, I think the public would rather see BoNY-Mellon blow all the money on bonuses and corporate parties!
BTW, it’s a private contract that calls for Marks to accept huge risk for uncertain or perhaps no reward — I thought this was to be encouraged? I also love how Parloff acts as if the Bank had to be begged — “at the U.S. Treasury’s bidding” — to accept the TARP money.
Oh you’re a funny man, Mr. Parloff.Putting aside the merits of the suit (which does look somewhat weak), you still have to be amazed at Parloff’s entire premise — that by filing the action in Russia, Marks was attempting to make use of a corrupt foreign legal system that favors the entrenched and powerful, instead of filing in America where all sides have an equally fair shot.Not exactly the type of argument you’d expect from a Fortune 500 macher.Indeed, isn’t that the 900-pound gorilla in the room whenever the court deals with a forum non motion by a large corporate defendant? You know, when the corporation swears that the legal system in some small backwater where it happens to control the economy and all the levers of power is perfectly suited to adjudicate some poor schmuck’s claim?
Please Fortune — don’t tell us what you and your readers really think of foreign legal systems. You’re gonna shoot my Kinney analysis all to hail!