B&L has become known for taking on — and succeeding in — what many would consider complex cases. Frankly many of these cases cannot be grouped into neat little sub-categories. They are often harder to win; they are often unique and aptly described as “complex.”
Here are some examples:
- We accepted a case when a client was wronged by his former employer — a law firm — who refused to honor an employment agreement providing he share in the legal fees from proceeds of large multi-million dollar security class actions. The law firm disputed the existence of the agreement, and also correctly argued the agreement was unenforceable under existing law. Our client’s claim was worth millions of dollars. B&L accepted the case. The idea that there had to be a change in the law did not deter us. After rejections by two levels of the court system, we ultimately convinced the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to change the law. The case was SCF Consulting, LLC v. Barrack, Rodos & Bacine, 175 A.3d 273 (Pa. 2018).
- We were consulted by a client after it lost a condemnation case that would have fundamentally altered the way the organization operated. We accepted the client’s challenge of correcting the issue on appeal. We ultimately convinced the Supreme Court to take the case — a very rare occurrence — and prevailed before the Supreme Court on a novel Constitutional issue involving the separation of church and state. The case was In re Condemnation Proceedings, 938 A.2d 341 (Pa. 2007).
- When former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice, Russell Nigro, brought our attention to a fundamental problem with the Philadelphia Center City District’s tax assessment scheme, we realized it was novel and would require a great deal of work. But we accepted the case. It required us to pursue class action claims seeking a tax refund under a little used statute called the Municipal Authorities Act. After hard fought litigation, we won – the class was certified – and we obtained a very good settlement recovery for the class. The case was Nigro v. Center City District.
These are just some examples of the complex and difficult cases we have had. There are many others. We continue to add to our list. Here are some more general categories and specific examples:
Complex Civil Litigation
B&L has been handling high profile defamation cases over the better part of the last few decades. B&L becoming a preeminent defamation firm can be traced back over twenty years to founding partner George Bochetto’s bellwether trial victory against Sports Illustrated on behalf of professional boxer and actor, Randall “Tex” Cobb. Against what some said were “impossible odds,” a jury held that Sports Illustrated journalists maliciously defamed Tex through an article that alleged he fixed a fight. The case resulted in a $10.7 million verdict, and George and the firm received national acclaim for setting the record straight for Tex.
Since Cobb v. Sports Illustrated, the firm has had the opportunity to handle many high profile cases against some of the biggest media conglomerates in the World, including pursuing defamation claims for clients against the likes of Universal Studios, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. B&L has also established new law on defamation issues through cases such as Bochetto v. Gibson where George – on behalf of himself – pursued cutting edge legal issues all the way to the Supreme Court, where he won and established a new rule of law involving a media’s privilege to publish statements from court pleadings. Bochetto v. Gibson, 860 A.2d 67 (Pa. 2004).
Not all defamation cases are national in scope. Like politics, defamation cases are often uniquely local in nature since defamatory statements profoundly affect reputations in local communities and professional networks. B&L has handled many defamation matters against local newspapers and television media outlets, including The Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Bucks County Courier Times, The Morning Call, The Times Leader, ABC Channel 6, and Fox 29, to name a few.
Many of B&L’s cases are against non-media defendants on behalf of business professionals and corporations that are victims of defamation in a variety of different contexts. While these cases may not catch as much media attention, B&L has had tremendous success representing non-public figure individuals, some resulting in multi-million dollar recoveries.
Over the last several years, B&L developed a niche pursuing defamation claims that originate over the internet, many of which involve a unique set of problems – both practical and technical – ranging from discovering the identity of anonymous defamers and the legal rights of victims to obtain the removal of internet based defamation.
The purpose of filing a civil lawsuit is to right a wrong, but all too often lawsuits are filed for malicious or vindictive purposes. When a person or entity is named in a lawsuit for which there is no probable cause and no merit, it can cost tremendous amounts of resources and time. Aside from legal fees, an improper lawsuit can have a negative impact on reputations, result in lost wages or profits, and can cause tremendous emotional stress. Frivolous lawsuits also create a drain on the court system itself. Filing a lawsuit in this way is punishable under a statute known in Pennsylvania as the Dragonetti Act.
B&L attorneys prosecute and defend these “litigation tort” claims regularly, and routinely we are called upon as consultants and testifying experts by parties that are involved in Dragonetti and abuse of process claims.
After litigating these cases for years, we realized that there was no single resource which practitioners could use to learn the intricacies of the law on these matters. So, we wrote it.
The first edition was published by ALM Media – the owner of the Legal Intelligencer – in 2016 and it is now in its second edition. Now, literally, we can boast that “we wrote the book on Dragonetti.”
Our Dragonetti book has been well received; in fact, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in a ground breaking opinion concerning the Constitutionality of the Dragonetti Act, cited our book as authority. Villani v. Seibert, 159 A.3d 478, 502 (Pa. 2017)(Dissent)(citing G. Bochetto, D. Heim, J. O’Connell & R. Tintner, Wrongful Use of Civil Proceedings and Related Torts in Pennsylvania (1st ed. 2016)).
B&L has several former prosecutors on its team of lawyers, and probably for that reason we have had a very good track record with proving and defending fraud cases. There are a number of different types of fraud that can be perpetrated on an unwitting victim, including those that are perpetrated over the mail, phone, or wire. Some fraud is consumer related and may involve state and federal consumer protection statutes, or may be related to the sale of security. Other fraud maybe committed by what is known as a “criminal enterprise,” and where appropriate, the Federal Civil RICO statue can be used to recover not only legal fees, but triple damages.
B&L has prosecuted many civil fraud cases in a variety of different – and often times – interesting contexts. For example, B&L prosecuted a civil RICO case against an alleged high ranking member of the Gambone Crime Family for infiltrating and bleeding dry a legitimate waste management business. We have also prosecuted a civil fraud claim against artifact dealers who swindled descendants of General George Pickett out of rare and valuable civil war artifacts. B&L also pursued claims for fraud in Federal Court against a defendant who defrauded our client out of the proceeds from one-of-a-kind historic boxing films, which were packaged and sold together with others to ESPN for $75 million.
As attorneys who represent clients who are the victims of fraud, B&L’s main goal is to make clients whole by recovering restitution for the wrong. If you feel that you or your company have been the victim of civil fraud, or if you have been accused of committing civil fraud, the experienced law firm of B&L can provide you with justice.
B&L lawyers have extensive experience prosecuting and defending all types of employment litigation, which generally involves an employee suing an employer over an issue related to a condition of employment or of the employee’s termination from his or her job.
The claims may include: wrongful termination, sexual harassment, discrimination, workers’ compensation issues, whistleblower and qui tam cases which involve false claims that cause financial harm to the federal government.
Employment lawsuits can also be filed by a person who has been refused employment and who believes that they were not hired based on a discriminatory decision-making process.
Sometimes a dispute involves an employer withholding wages, failing to pay overtime, or skimming employee tips. Those claims allow employees to file claim under the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law (WPCL) or the Federal Standards Labor Act (FSLA), providing for statutory remedies, including the recovery of attorney fees and other penalties.
Where the employer is a government entity, the employment litigation may involve whether an employee’s civil rights have been violated by the employer, implicating claims under Section 1983 of the Civil Rights Act.
Employment law is a complex area of the law, and litigating issues regarding employment can be both emotional and disruptive. If you are an employee who feels that you have been treated unfairly, or an employer that is facing the prospect of an employment lawsuit, it is essential that you seek the counsel of attorneys that are experienced in the practice of employment litigation. B&L represents both employers and employees, and our lawyers have experience with both federal and state employment laws, enabling us to provide you with the advice and representation you need to take your case to trial.
Sexual harassment in the workplace has been more prevalent recently but we have represented clients in these types of cases for many years. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination is prohibited in the workplace, whether on the basis of race, sex, national origin, color, or religion. This prohibition includes sexual harassment which is defined as a form of discrimination that comes in the form of requests for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, or other conduct that is sexual in nature, whether verbal or physical. Though sexual harassment can be experienced in a number of different forms, from a legal perspective there are two different types of sexual harassment from which a person can seek protection. They are quid pro quo harassment and a hostile work environment.
B&L has represented both the victims and the accused in these cases. We have gained a fundamental understanding of the law and the unique dynamics when these claims arise.
With former prosecutors on our team, B&L has a proven track record in defending many clients who have been accused in state and federal courts with “white collar crimes,” a term that came into use in the first part of the twentieth century to describe any illegal activity that was committed by a person of “high status in the course of his occupation.” The term was meant to create a distinction between crimes of violence and nonviolent crimes being committed for personal commercial gain. White collar crime is broadly described as “lying, cheating and stealing” by the FBI, and more specifically as “deceit, deception, concealment, manipulation, breach of trust, subterfuge or illegal circumvention” by the Department of Justice.
B&L have defended clients in cases involving security fraud, healthcare and Medicare fraud, tax evasion, bank fraud, and mortgage fraud, among others.
B&L has had the opportunity to represents entertainment and sports figures in a variety of different contexts. Many of our sports and entertainment engagements involve boxing since George Bochetto has been personally involved in the sport for decades, and he served as the Pennsylvania Boxing Commissioner under former Governor Tom Ridge.
We have represented both promotors and boxers in a variety of different contexts, and we have established new law concerning the unique contractual relationships between promotors and boxers. Echols v. Pelullo, 377 F.3d 272 (3d Cir. 2004). We have also handled a complicated, multi-front litigation matter involving the closing of the Arena Football League and canceling of the Philadelphia Soul season. AFL Philadelphia LLC v. Krause, 639 F.Supp.2d 512 (E.D. Pa. 2009).
Entertainment and media law as well as sports law involves the application of a wide variety of different practice areas as it pertains to professionals in the world of amateur and professional sports as well as professionals in the entertainment industry. The most frequently utilized legal concepts come from the areas of intellectual property law, defamation, labor and employment law, contract law, corporate finance and more. From pre-contract negotiations to litigation, B&L lawyers have extensive experience in providing successful representation in legal matters pertaining to entertainment, media and sports.