King & Spalding Can’t Dodge Wrongful Termination Case


• Former associate alleges whistleblowing about ethics prompted ouster
• Firm cites performance issues


A lawsuit lives on against King & Spalding by a former associate who accuses the law firm of firing him for reporting alleged ethical lapses by two partners.

Judge Valerie E. Caproni of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York May 22 denied King & Spalding’s motion to dismiss the case filed by David A. Joffe.

King & Spalding’s attorneys, Joseph Baumgarten and Pinchos Goldberg from Proskauer Rose, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment May 23.

Joffe worked as a commercial litigation associate at the firm from 2012 to 2016. He claims King & Spalding fired him in retaliation for his report to firm management of what he perceived as ethical lapses by two of the firm’s partners. Joffe was fired a few weeks after telling a third partner that the two lawyers had placed several materially false statements before a federal judge in 2014.

Joffe alleged wrongful termination in violation of the law firm’s implicit obligation not to discourage him from complying with professional conduct rules that require him to report misconduct. He also alleged the firm violated the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by discharging him only days before his pension benefits would have vested.

The firm said in court documents that any misstatements to the judge in the 2014 case were made in good faith based on the information available to the partners at the time. Joffe was fired because he had poor performance reviews, it said.

Andrew Moskowitz of Javerbaum Wurgaft in Springfield, N.J., represents Joffe.

The case is Joffe v. King & Spalding LLP, S.D.N.Y., No. 17-3392, motion for summary judgment denied5/22/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gayle Cinquegrani in Washington at
gcinquegrani@bloomberglaw.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peggy Aulino at
maulino@bloomberglaw.com