Donald Trump is in the news once again. This time he is suing Manhattan law firm Morrison Cohen LLP and his lawyer who represented him in a malpractice suit, saying that the law firm has treated him like a â€œcash cowâ€ by overcharging him and performing unnecessary work in order to bill more hours and therefore handing him what he feels is a huge legal bill. Mr. Trump is claiming he has enough experience in dealing with lawyers and feels that he knows when he's been overcharged on legal fees. This time he feels that the legal fees quoted are not fair and a malpractice suit is in order. Trump, who has said that he has already paid Morrison Cohen $1 million in legal fees, is asking for $3 million in damages in his malpractice suit.
â€œI have dealt with a lot of lawyers and paid a lot of legal fees,â€ says Mr. Trump. â€œI have a Ph.D. in legal fees. I know when fees are fair and when they are not.â€
Overview of the Legal Battle
Morrison Cohenâ€™s David Scharf was hired by Trump last year to represent him in a suit against a golf course contractor, who Trump felt overcharged him for the service. They won the case and Justice Kenneth M. Rudolph who handled the case, awarded Trump almost $2 million in damages for the earth-moving contract and about $40,000 for the infrastructure. In addition, $1.3 million was also awarded for attorneyâ€™s fees. Despite the success of the malpractice suit, Trump feels that Morrison Cohen should have advised him not to pursue the infrastructure claims since it would certainly incur more cost and would outweigh any recovery. He said that most of their conversations were centered on legal fees and very little was discussed about the merit of the case.
“Ninety percent of the conversations I had with David Scharf were about legal fees, not the case,” said Trump. “We won the case because I'm a great witness.”
On the other hand, David Scharf maintains that the infrastructure issue was an integral part of the success of the case, and that it was necessary because the defendant has raised the issue. Scharf said that Trump was using his popularity as a negotiating tactic to get a discount because of the successful outcome of the case. Scharf also believes that his firm fairly billed Mr. Trump for the services rendered. They have counterclaimed for $470,000 in legal fees that they say remains unpaid.
This isn't the first time Donald Trump has faced off against Morrison Cohen. Robert S. Cohen, the firm's co-founder, represented Ivana Trump when she divorced from Mr. Trump in 1991.
“I beat him too,” said Mr. Trump, referring to attorney Robert S. Cohen's attempt to bypass the Trump's prenuptial agreement.
Donald Trump is represented in his malpractice suit by Alfred Donnellan of Delbello Donnellan Weingarten & Wiederkehr in White Plains, N.Y.