Class Action Lawsuit

A class action lawsuit on behalf of CA, WA and NY staff of Heller Ehrman was filed yesterday, October 20, 2008 on the United States District Court, Northern District of California.  Here is a link to a copy of the complaint:

http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/ca/heller1021.pdf

Over and out

Heller Drone
Cruise Director

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82 Responses to “Class Action Lawsuit”


  1. 1 Ex-Hellerite 21 October 2008 at 11:47 am

    Great, hope has feet! Thank you to those named as plaintiffs for filing this action on behalf of all of us!

  2. 2 Still Waiting 21 October 2008 at 11:48 am

    I am still waiting for my final paycheck (I was laid off last Friday Oct. 17) for proof of nonpayment of vacation, etc. Will I still be able to include myself in this class action, assuming it is the case I am not paid? I assume to do so I should contact Kaster’s lawfirm directly at that time.

  3. 3 Yet another ex-Hellerite 21 October 2008 at 12:27 pm

    still waiting- my experience with class actions (at Heller, ironically…) is that you can opt-in once a class has been certified. it takes a LOOONG time to happen unfortunately, so you’ll have to be patient. and even after the class HAS been certified, it’ll probably be a long time before anyone sees any money.

  4. 4 Anon 21 October 2008 at 12:40 pm

    Aren’t class members automatically included in a class action and you have to take steps to opt OUT (rather than in)?

  5. 5 Yet another ex-Hellerite 21 October 2008 at 1:20 pm

    anon: yes, I meant out. too many cold meds this morning…
    my recollection is more often than not these things end up settling, and a class is certified for settlement purposes. once that happens, a notice is usually sent out to all potential class members advising them what they’re eligible for under the terms of the settlement, and give instructions on how to claim it. at that point, you often have to submit a form to the claims administrator showing proof that you’re eligible as a class member. at some point after that, they send you a check. it might be more straightforward in this case, since there’s a relatively small class and they have the contact info for everyone from the employee records.

    unfortunately, these things can take awhile to shake out. and once they do, the plaintiffs attorneys take a chunk of the settlement for their fees.

    and this is all with the caveat that I don’t have an “esq.” after my name…

  6. 6 DC 21 October 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Is the DC office included in this lawsuit?

  7. 7 All Leave? 21 October 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I’d like to talk with the putative class actions ASAP.

    This seems completely premature. There are former Heller attorneys who might be willing to do this type of work FOR FREE, INSTEAD OF GIVING A HUGE CUT OF OUR WAGES AND ACCRUED VACATION TO OTHER ATTORNEYES!!

    HD knows how to get in touch with me, or post here.

  8. 8 All Leave? 21 October 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Sorry, that should say “I’d like to talk with the putative class action **representative members** ASAP.

  9. 9 Former Hellerite 21 October 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Thanks to those responsible for filing on behalf of the rest of us in the same situation. Hopefully, this will be the final chapter in what has become a Heller drama with the happy ending coming to those who deserve it most.

  10. 10 Observer 21 October 2008 at 1:54 pm

    Sigh. A pretty sloppy complaint. The attorneys didn’t even manage to cite the jurisdiction statute they are relying on correctly. Some other oddities too.

  11. 11 karen 21 October 2008 at 3:01 pm

    Can the Williams Lea people get in on this class action suit?? I was told I was being laid off because I had to go to the hospital with an heart problem emergency and that was considered ‘Absence Without Prior Authorization’!!!

  12. 12 What? 21 October 2008 at 3:26 pm

    Might be better to hire outside because there may be conflict issues that would arise with a former HE lawyer representing clients in a class action made up of former HE employees. For example, if you work with any of the firm’s shareholders in another firm, I’m pretty sure there will be a conflict. Free or not.

  13. 13 Former Heller Assoc 21 October 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I agree with the comments urging some restraint with respect to this suit. It is very easy to let one’s emotions override clear decision making, and we should be especially careful here. Clearly, the attorneys representing these individuals are after a big pay day. It is my understanding that the WARN Act and various other labor laws provide for attorneys fees should a lawsuit become necessary to collect.

    We will at some point hear what the fee arrangement is with respect to attorneys fees, but if we (ex Heller people) are going to be left with a $25 check, rather than the thousands of dollars each many of us are owed, I don’t think it is worth it. I’m not saying that’s the plan here, but we need attorneys to represent us who aren’t going to treat what’s due to US as THEIR piggy-bank. Their fees should come primarily from the fees provided for under the law in a case such as this, and we should get MOST if not ALL of what we are owed under the law (I’m thinking at least 75% closer to 85% or 90%, if not 100%). Any settlement MUST preserve as much as possible what’s due to former employees, and not simply serve as a big pay for some random plaintiff attorneys.

  14. 14 Anon2 21 October 2008 at 4:08 pm

    This complaint fails to include Heller Ehrman LLP as a defendant! That is the beast driving our firm into destruction and it needs to be included as a defendant. These attorneys need to file an amended complaint ASAP!

  15. 15 hellerdrone 21 October 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Heller Ehrman LLP may only be a “branding” name. I believe all the entities of “Heller” are properly listed in the Dissolution Plan which was published on the Internet a few weeks ago.

    I would suggest you contact the attorneys listed at the top of the complaint if you feel that it needs to be amended.

  16. 16 Anon2 21 October 2008 at 4:24 pm

    You know, I don’t even care anymore. Everything is so screwed up. I doubt even this class action will solve anything anyway. I’m so disgusted.

  17. 17 hellerdrone 21 October 2008 at 4:31 pm

    I still refuse to see the glass as half empty.

    I suggest that you contact:

    Matt Helland
    Nicholas Kaster, PLLP
    One Embarcadero Center
    Suite 720
    San Francisco, CA 94111

    +1 (415) 277-7239

    helland@nka.com

  18. 18 To Heller And Back 21 October 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Sheesh, I’m cutting my losses and giving up. Goodbye, Heller. Life’s too short to cling to Ma Heller’s teat. I’m already seeing a whole new beautiful world, and I also see that stressing over this mess is just not worth it. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out to spend quality time with friends…

  19. 19 Observer 21 October 2008 at 5:22 pm

    The attorneys on the complaint did track the Heller entities listed in the Dissolution Plan accurately. I think it must be true that ‘Heller Ehrman LLP’ was just a brand.

  20. 20 Fee Arrangement? 21 October 2008 at 6:53 pm

    Anyone know what the fee arrangement is with Helland? Typical plaintiff lawyers get at least 1/3rd of what is recovered.

    In this case, if the class settles for 75% or 60% of what is owed (a good result), 1/3rd of that would go to Helland, employees will receive 50% or 40%. And that is an optimal scenario under these types of cases.

  21. 21 Heller Refugee 21 October 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I got a jury summons for the 9th Circuit to appear in November, it would be too ironic to get called in for this case!

  22. 22 Semper Fi 21 October 2008 at 10:15 pm

    I am not offering legal advice but think this through. We’ve all worked at law firms and we know how this plays out. The only ones that win are the lawyers. The real issue is whether the firm has enough AR to pay our wages and vacation. I suggest that it does and once it pays the banks, it will work through the list of other obligations, including the money owed to us.

    Above the law is usually a poor source of information but the lawsuit is being discussed there in the two most recent threads — the one today about the law suit and the one from last week titled “so much for 60 days…” (You have to weed through the usual law student garbage.) Also, if you are thinking about filing suit do some research on the attorney and firm that filed the complaint today. There is some information on ATL.

    (P.S., Heller Drone, thanks for keeping us connected. I hope things are going as well as they can for you, given the circumstances.)

  23. 23 Semper Fi 21 October 2008 at 10:18 pm

    Heller Refugee — the 9th Cir. is a court of appeal, not a trial court.

  24. 24 Heller Refugee 21 October 2008 at 10:27 pm

    @Semper Fi, not true. They have some trial courts. I have a summons for the courtroom of Judge William Alsup who is currently conducting a jury trial for a federal case involving a class action against the NFL players union – just like the class action for Heller will be. \

    I thought the same thing about the 9th circuit before I did a little research on how the federal courts work.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3654229

  25. 25 All Leave? 21 October 2008 at 11:39 pm

    I have received the “Fee Arrangement” for the lawyers who filed the putative class action.

    I’m not going to post it here because I wouldn’t want someone to post MY attorney fee-arrangement online. If you want one yourself, feel free to call the attorneys listed on the Complaint.

    I do not plan on joining this putative class.

    If I don’t get paid in the next 30 days (and that seems very likely), I will file my own suit, or get an attorney to do it for me for near-free.

  26. 26 Eddie 21 October 2008 at 11:47 pm

    I’m an employment lawyer, employer-side. I don’t know what these lawyers thought they were doing, but it was incredibly boneheaded to include a claim for sec. 203 waiting time penalties in this suit. Filing the suit stops the running of the penalties, which would otherwise have kept accruing for 30 days. They can correct me if I’m wrong, but on my read of this, by filing the complaint now instead of 30 days from now they’ve done the class out of 5+ weeks’ extra wages that they could have recovered.

  27. 27 Jonas 22 October 2008 at 12:37 am

    Eddie — That is my understanding as well. I can’t understand why those attorneys would do that.

  28. 28 Jonas 22 October 2008 at 12:46 am

    Hmmm…the attorney that signed the complaint joined the California bar in July 2007. The complaint also seems to cite the wrong jurisdictional statute.

  29. 29 Eddie 22 October 2008 at 1:05 am

    Jonas – I posted this to the ATL thread on this lawsuit also, as #59. I sure hope they had a good reason for doing what they did, other than to be first in line at the courthouse and try and snag lead counsel bonus. Are the Nichols Kaster people reading this thread? Care to explain it?

    I don’t have a dog in this fight but I respect the Heller folks I’ve encountered over a lifetime of practice (well, ok, most of them anyway) and I wish you all well.

  30. 30 Penalty 22 October 2008 at 1:15 am

    From http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_WaitingTimePenalty.htm:

    “The penalty is measured at the employee’s daily rate of pay and is calculated by multiplying the daily wage by the number of days that the employee was not paid, up to a maximum of 30 days. This does not mean that the wages continue for a 30-day period, but that the employee may be entitled to up to 30 actual days’ worth of wages. The 30-day period is calendar days, and includes weekends and holidays and any other days that the employee would not normally work. Payment of the wages or the commencement of an action stops the penalty from accruing. Filing a complaint in court commences an action. An employee’s filing a claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is not considered the filing of an action, and does not stop the penalty from accruing.”

    The last sentence appears to indicate that the filing of the class action complaint does indeed stop the penalty from accruing for the members of the class.

  31. 31 Penalty 22 October 2008 at 1:20 am

    Oops, I meant to refer to the last 3 sentences, not the last sentence.

  32. 32 another former hellerite 22 October 2008 at 1:49 am

    I agree with all comments calling for restraint. When the banks are paid back (estimated at the end of next month), the employees are well ahead of the shareholders in the line of folks to be paid. It would be more prudent to wait a month and see if Heller pays us what we are owed, especially if the comments above about how the complaint stopped the penalty from accruing are true.

    If this lawsuit catapults Heller into bankruptcy or causes a big chunk of money to go to attorney fees (which it will), that just hurts the employees. I wish people thought about this more or would pull out now if possible.

  33. 33 Observer 22 October 2008 at 1:58 am

    Penalty: we need a labor attorney to comment on this. But I would think that the filing of a class action lawsuit (unless you are a named plaintiff) would not immediately stop the waiting time penalty. You are not a member of the class up until at least when the court certifies the class under Federal Rule 23.

    But I’d like comment from someone more knowledgeable in labor law.

  34. 34 SFMM 22 October 2008 at 2:00 am

    Question: the class gets certified and the matter settles. I object at all stages — cert, settlement, and wherever else. Suppose class counsel incorrectly pleaded claims. Do I have a claim against class counsel for malpratice? If so, how likely is it that I meet my burden given the currently known facts? And, is my recovery limited to compensatory damages?

    A Heller Ehrman page from Ebba for the first one to answer. Hope you’re all well.

  35. 35 Observer 22 October 2008 at 2:11 am

    SFMM: If you opt out of the class (an opportunity that is always provided), you don’t participate in the settlement, but you also are not bound by it and retain your own claims. If you don’t opt out, and are within the class, I think you would have a potential claim for malpractice against the class counsel. But you would have to show that, on your reasoning, the class counsel could plainly have done better than they did on the result.

    And keep in mind that incorrectly pleading claims probably will not be an issue in the end: Class counsel will almost certainly be allowed to amend the complaint for any serious pleading defects.
    Filing the case too soon, for waiting time penalty purposes, is not a pleading defect though.

  36. 36 SFMM 22 October 2008 at 2:45 am

    Thanks. Two questions. I know recognize that the issue is not about incorrectly pleaded claims (and even if so, as you note the Complaint would be amended) but rather the fact that the Complaint was prematurely filed. No legal advise requested, but how strong of a basis is thatr for a malpractice claim? One one hand, it is a pretty obvious issue — it is, after all, being discussed on two non-lawyer blogs, this and ATL — but on the other hand, it seems flawed that a claim could be based on an attorney availing himself of the judicial process at the behest of his clients. Second, at the certification stage, does a putative member have the right to opt out? I understand that there is a right to object at that stage, but that seems to suggest that opting out is ultimately a decision of the Court.

  37. 37 SFMM 22 October 2008 at 2:46 am

    know = now

  38. 38 Down but not Out 22 October 2008 at 7:15 am

    @DC – I’m not a lawyer (just work with them), but believe the named Plaintiffs are only from NY, CA, and Washington State, not DC. You need at least one named Plaintiff from each state, so DC and Alaska are not covered. Madison went to Perkins, that’s why nobody from WI is named. If you feel this lawsuit is the best way to proceed, then contact Matt Helland, his email and phone number are in the Class Action Complaint listed on HellerHighwater. Good Luck!

  39. 39 Victory 22 October 2008 at 9:39 am

    Down but not Out, are you Matt Helland?

  40. 40 dob 22 October 2008 at 11:07 am

    Eddie, Jonas –

    I’d been puzzling over what exactly stopped s 203 for the longest time. On its face it looks like it would stop accruing when any action for the owed monies is made, regardless of whether the penalties are claimed. Why the distinction that they accrue until specifically claimed?

  41. 41 ex-HELLerite 22 October 2008 at 1:27 pm

    I’ve been reading all of the comments, and I must say, they are interesting. I recently contacted the firm representing the potential class in Cal. I believe I am suppose to be added as a pltff., representing the DC potential class. Help me understand something. Isn’t filing the suit and getting 50% – 60% better than getting nothing? I mean whether you left or were let go, we didn’t get our accrued vacation time. I realize that lawyers are in it for the money. Is the some other recourse to the suit that we ex-employees have? I am always open to suggestions.

  42. 42 NotOverlooked 22 October 2008 at 1:45 pm

    Wake up people! Having us bitch and complain and fight amongst ourselves is exactly what the shareholders want. Here is my take – for what it is worth on this lawsuit business:

    – have you ever heard of being awarded court costs/attorneys’ fees? I believe the fee arrangement also anticipates this and the result could be that the class gets whatever amount is awarded – and then the court awards attorneys fees on top of that. And we are lucky to file in USDC NCal where they are pretty liberal with the awarding of such fees.

    – wait? for what? until Heller liquidates all its assets and we win the suit but there is no money to pay the judgment? Part of this suit should be some way of either freezing assets, placing an injunction or stop order on the liquidation of assets etc.

    – so what if it goes into bankruptcy? All the better for us. There is a trustee who administers who gets paid what and as said above certain employee wage claims take priority. And while the 9th Circuit still hasn’t decided how WARN Act monies sit in terms of precendence in a bankruotcy, I still thank bk is the best thing to happen. One benefit: the trustee can look at transactions and expenditures going 180 days back. This covers crap like the $1.5 M spent on the ridiculous shareholder retreat. Can anyone say AIG?

  43. 43 anon 22 October 2008 at 1:46 pm

    ex-HELLerite, yes of course there is other recourse. This lawsuit is absolutely idiotic and the attorneys are subpar. You file a DLSE claim, it is easy and if you want help you can hire your own attorney for far less money than these guys are going to take. And it is entirely possible that Heller is going to pay our $ in a month or two–without losing a big chunk to attorney fees. If you think you are getting 50-60 % of what’s owed based on this class action you are dreaming–you will get a small fraction of that after the attorneys take out what they are owed. Whereas if you filed your own claim, you stand a significant chance of getting close to 100% and in a much shorter time period. There is no harm in waiting to file suit–there is only upside.

  44. 44 Yet another ex-Hellerite 22 October 2008 at 1:56 pm

    NotOverlooked- this thing will never go to trial. It will probably settle at some point down the road, and plaintiffs counsel will likely get a cut from the settlement for their fees.

    I’m not going to editorialize whether or not this was premature, but if it were me, I certainly wouldn’t expect a dime from this lawsuit anytime soon. Heller had an entire practice group dedicated to defending class actions. A member of the dissolution committee routinely defended these things. I imagine they expected this was coming.

  45. 45 Observer 22 October 2008 at 3:04 pm

    I would bet they knew this was coming.

    Many over-optimistic comments here about what good bankruptcy does you. Chapter 7 trustees are a wildly variable lot as to quality and diligence. And they hire laweyrs, who eat a lot of money too.

    There is no rush to file bankruptcy: If there are claims against the shareholders, those can reach back from a bankruptcy date up to one year (and even four years back via California statute as to claims in Cal).

    Is anybody a personal acquaintance of of Laura Werth? I’m not, but if you are, call her up and chat. See what the lawyers are telling here, see how well informed she seems about her/our case. Just a thought.

    Not a labor lawyer, but it sounds like a good idea to me to file your own, individual DSLE claim. Probably do that right at 30 days from where you were terminated, and include waiting time amount.

  46. 46 dob 22 October 2008 at 4:29 pm

    has anyone successfully had a conference/hearing scheduled with DLSE? when i submitted one it was bounced back by the office head on the basis that they can’t go after the partners in their individual capacity. if others have had better luck i will refile.

  47. 47 Two cents 22 October 2008 at 8:10 pm

    I agree with those who are wary of this lawsuit coming so soon. It is a legitimate issue whether this filing stops the running of the 203 penalties. There is plenty of time to file. Why the haste? Class actions are cumbersome, complicated and oh so slow moving. I would rather wait a couple of months to see whether I can be paid from the client collections that I have heard should be forthcoming. If I am not paid, there is plenty of time to file a lawsuit. The conduct of this lawyer smacks of ambulance chasing.

  48. 48 Nichols Kaster 22 October 2008 at 8:19 pm

    Did the lead plaintiffs at least talk to another lawyer? Were there other options and this was the best? Laura, Carl, Anna, please speak up. Right now, this is equivalent to buying a car (a multi-thousand-dollar purchase) based on a spam email without even a test drive, not to mention driving other cars.

  49. 49 Two cents 22 October 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I talked to two veteran — and well respected — employment lawyers in San Francisco who don’t know the outfit, just that they’re based in Minneapolis. That alone raised a red flag for me. One lawyer raised some intriguing options if employees are not paid, i.e. the possibility of seeking injunctive relief forcing the banks to allow the payment to employees, or even the possibility of suits against the banks for unlawful interference with a contractual relationship or even the ever-reliable unfair business practices claim. Just some potential options down the road.

  50. 50 Observer 22 October 2008 at 10:54 pm

    I also wonder how Nichols Kaster got into this. There are some very good, and quite aggressive, employee-side labor attorneys here in S.F. And they take some cases on contingency, if that was what was wanted. (I’ve had to litigate against some of them, and I can tell you you don’t get around them easily.)

    HD, are you able to shed any light on how Nichols Kaster was selected?

  51. 51 Judicata 22 October 2008 at 10:55 pm

    My two cents: I am a former Heller associate. My friends and I friends spent a lot of time discussing the class action today. (Note that we are virtually in the same position as staff — no vacation, no pay, etc.). And at least one of us has spoken to the class attorney. I encourage you to talk to any of the former Heller associates that you know. In our opinion, this lawsuit is a bad idea and class counsel–to put it charitably–is not the type of lawyer that we would want representing us. Also, please do not be pressured by him or any other attorney to sign anything in haste.

  52. 52 Judicata 22 October 2008 at 10:55 pm

    I have the same question. How was this attorney selected?

  53. 53 Nichols Kaster 22 October 2008 at 11:03 pm

    I hope the firm was not chosen based on a blog post. HD, please help us defend our former colleagues.

  54. 54 Semper Fi 23 October 2008 at 12:16 am

    I have a bad feeling about all of this. HD, do you know how the attorney was chosen?

  55. 55 Former Paralegal 23 October 2008 at 1:03 am

    I bet the plaintiffs went with Nichols Kaster because they received a letter from the firm. I received a letter from them, thought what bastard ambulance chasers they must be and recycled it. I guess someone else thought they were the answer to their cash flow problem.

  56. 56 To: N. Kaster 23 October 2008 at 2:05 am

    Dear Mr. Kaster,

    Do you feel any guilt for what are doing? When you close your eyes late at night and think about your life and your profession, do you feel at peace? Do you? Really?

    — A former Heller employee.

  57. 57 Former Heller SF Assoc 23 October 2008 at 3:13 am

    I, for one, am going to love seeing this matter wind its way through the district court in SF. How many judges will have to recuse themselves? Will these ex-Heller partners REALLY want to be dragged into district court in SF? Many of these ex-partners hope to have a long career here in SF, and I’m sure the last thing they want is being hauled in front of Alsup, Patel, etc. and being made to look like the ogres that some of them actually are. Is this case really good for their careers? I say no, and I think the better strategy is to name and shame as many ex-partners as possible. Once they realize that these judges that they have spent their whole career not pissing off are suddenly going to judge THEM rather than their clients, they will shut up and pay up. These Kaster idiots don’t know anything about strategy, and that is clear from their pleading. We need somebody who can take these ex-partners to task in the SF district court, and maybe even the state courts. SERIOUSLY– just imagine some of those guys sitting in the defendants chair in front of Judge Walker. I would give up a couple thousand bucks of what I’m owed just to see some of those smug a-holes taken to task.

  58. 58 OutsideObserver 23 October 2008 at 6:55 am

    Is it possible that, the class action notwithstanding, Heller could pay all its former employees all the monies owed to them (including where applicable waiting time penalties) and then file a motion to dismiss? I would think so but this is not an area of the law I’m especially familiar with.

  59. 59 One More Heller Paralegal 23 October 2008 at 12:58 pm

    It’s worth noting that the three plaintiffs had jobs at Heller that would not have included working on actual litigation matters. These individuals wouldn’t be expected to know how the litigation process, and in particular, class actions work. I wonder if these good people know what they are in for. Like most lawsuits, this one will move at glacial speed. Months will be spent briefing on the inevitable motion to dismiss that Heller will file as a first defensive volley. Assuming the case isn’t dismissed, many more months will be spent on the motion to certify the class. If the class is certified, much additional time will be spent on the remaining haggling. All of this will generate lots of attorney fees, and it will be a very long time before former Heller employees see any vacation pay or WARN Act monies as a result of this suit. Meanwhile there is a chance Heller will pay up without being sued. Former Heller associates and other interested attorneys have weighed in on this site and on ATL about the prematurity of this suit, questions about the quality of the legal representation and about other legal strategies that might be used to better effect. Let’s not act in haste and repent at our leisure. This class action may not be the way to go.

  60. 60 Yet another ex-Hellerite 23 October 2008 at 1:48 pm

    And let’s not forget discovery propounded to the named class reps. And depositions…

  61. 61 ex-HELLerite 23 October 2008 at 3:33 pm

    anon,

    How do I go about filing a DLSE claim, and what is it?

  62. 62 Observer 23 October 2008 at 4:54 pm

    HD has suggested we ought not to communicate with the lead plaintiffs themselves. That is advice that I strongly disagree with. If they filed their own, individual law suit — fine. But when they filed as a class action they implicated everybody else’s positions (ex-associates as well as ex-staff), and got a law firm that most of us never, ever heard of before into the act. Not saying lead plaintiffs did anything wrong (possibly ill-timed), but actions like that have consequences — like hearing from their fellow class members.

    I encourage any of you who are well acquainted with the lead plaintifss to contact them and ask them to discuss with you what is going on and why. Lead plaintiff is a role that carries both benefits and responsibilities. They took it on, or let NK talk them into taking it on. If they want to stick with the role, they have to accept all that goes with it.

  63. 63 Observer 23 October 2008 at 4:57 pm

    For official state of California info on how to file a wage/unpaid vaction time claim, you can look here:

    http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileWageClaim.htm

    Information and forms are provided. And of course if you have a large claim, you may want to consult a good labor attorney.

  64. 64 another former hellerite 23 October 2008 at 5:44 pm

    Even if the lawsuit were to go to trial (which is unlikely) and attorney fees were granted, it’s very possible that there won’t be enough money to pay the employees what’s due AND the hefty attorney fees. We are talking about a limited pot of money that will come in.

    All we can hope is that the firm will NOT go into bankruptcy despite the lawsuit and once the bank is paid off Heller will pay the employees what is due. They are required to do so before the shareholders get anything back, anyway.

  65. 65 Anon #2 23 October 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Heller did not communicate regarding the last wages, pink slips, WARN Act, sabbatical pay, vacation pay at the time of termination which lead people to file unemployment with a copy of an email. I saw Heller go from and impressive law firm with a great reputation for treating it’s Professional Support Staff like human beings to a “we need to remodel and tell support staff they can’t use the conference rooms on 30” to a very dissmal place for staff to be employed. Had Heller seeked clients instead of shiny objects and offices in the best buildings this would have not happened. I don’t know if you all remember the fabulous shareholder retreat that happened in April or May of this year. Oh, that’s right only shareholders would be the only ones to remember. Millions of dollars was spent on that. It was a cowboy theme that was so needed for the shareholders. I think filing a claim and holding your place for you to be paid what you are owed is a good thing. Heller nor Heller Dissolution Committee is going to put the Professional Support Staff pay in front of their own pay no matter how good you think the intentions of the firm are. Heller should have been out there protecting a 119 year old firm from going under and conserving money. Did Matt Larrabee need to fly Judy Martin in during all the merger deals or could he have used existing staff in one of the many Heller offices? I do not trust that anyone in Heller management gave or gives a damn about the staff and if that were the case they would have not been dismissed so abruptly and so rudely. If you join the class action good for you and if you find other representation good for you. Let’s all be nice to each other and for the associates who think they know the WARN Act law so well I think you should seek employment in that direction becuase to be on the side of the employee is a good thing in this day and age. I hope everyone is enjoying the time off and relaxing at least a little bit before you find your place in a new position with another firm.

  66. 66 Anon #3 23 October 2008 at 8:38 pm

    Anon #2,

    Culture.

  67. 67 clare_1 23 October 2008 at 8:39 pm

    I agree, Observer–and I wonder WHY Heller Drone is against someone contacting the plantiff’s directly? As One More Heller Paralegal pointed out, it’s doubtful the plaintiff’s jobs included working on litigation matters. If that is the case, maybe they would appreciate information from people who did work on litigation matters (information that is not coming from a firm eager to line it’s pockets w/ the hard earned money of Heller staff).
    Don’t get me wrong, I think Heller Drone has done a real service w/ this website, but I am confused at his (or her) vehemence about not contacting the plantiffs.

  68. 68 Anon #2 23 October 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Why would the plaintiffs seek advice from a paralegal? Millions of lawyers are hired each year without individuals getting counsel from a paralegal before they are hired. i am confused as to why we are all so interested in providing legal advice. We are not attorneys except the associates that are commenting. I don’t know I would never imagine myself qualified enough to give legal counsel to anyone without a law degree.

  69. 69 clare_1 23 October 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Anon #2–point taken. I have no advice (legal or otherwise) to give. I just thought it odd that HD cares if anyone contacts them.

  70. 70 Anon #2 23 October 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I see. I just don’t think it’s HD’s part in all of this to be the point person to the plaintiffs she or he has put up this website to keep all of us informed of the facts and the information regarding the demise of Heller Ehrman. If you wanted info regarding the attorneys on the class action case can you contact them? I appreciate all of what Heller Highwater has offered us over these last months as I am sure you do as well. So, thanks HD.

  71. 71 Observer 23 October 2008 at 11:13 pm

    I appreciate the information forum that HD has offered to all.
    At the same, it just doesn’t quite seem that HD was uninvolved with the process of a class action suit getting filed. He knew about it immediately, and seems somewhat solicitous that it should be pursued as the lead plaintiffs wish. If I’m wrong about HD’s connections to the plaintiffs or the lawsuit, I’ll readily aplogize. I’d just like greater clarity on this important topic. A class action attempts to speak for all of us — and therefore gives us all a very legititmate reason to have an opinion about it, and good reason to speak directly to the lead plaintiffs if we wish.

  72. 72 Anon #2 23 October 2008 at 11:35 pm

    Good point. But I would rather speak with the attorney myself. I don’t think the plaintiffs have much to say in way of the law. I for one will contact the attorney and direct my questions the them.

  73. 73 Observer 24 October 2008 at 12:43 am

    Good luck, and please let us know what you learn.

  74. 74 Yet another ex-Hellerite 24 October 2008 at 11:31 am

    Anon #2- I generally agree with you. Labor and employment attorneys would know the best way to pursue legal remedies in this situation. However, any of the paras at Heller (at least the ones worth their salt) would know that a federal class action in a situation like this is a tricky and drawn-out process. They’d at least have told the plaintiffs to talk to a lot of different attorneys before making a decision, rather than going with the first attorney that sends an unsolicited mailer to them. Maybe they did; I don’t know.

  75. 75 Keep on 25 October 2008 at 2:51 am

    I received a check today for my past wages. I’m an west coast associate and know of others who received their wage checks today.

  76. 76 Anon2 25 October 2008 at 3:24 am

    Keep On, congrats! My termination date was 10-17 and I still haven’t received a check. I’m expecting a regular paycheck and am also owed 2+ weeks of vacation. It will be nearly 10 days by Monday. This is hard enough to take, but to read the memo that the remaining employees are going to get a bonus equal to their salary for closing up shop really hits hard. Bastards.

  77. 77 Keep on 25 October 2008 at 11:45 am

    Anon2 — I’m not sure if unpaid vacation will be included in the first check you receive. My understanding is that we’ll get unpaid wages first and then, mabye, unpaid vacation later.

    Also, I don’t believe that it is approrpriate to bad-mouth of colleagus who are still working on the dissolution. Good for them, I say — I would have taken the money too. Also, without them, none of us would be getting paid.

  78. 78 Hellerclerk 25 October 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Yeah, I know the only people left in Seattle are the ones collecting AP so that $$ is still coming in for us.

  79. 79 Standardize 25 October 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Any word on what Larrabee is up to?

  80. 80 Cspanner 27 October 2008 at 10:01 pm

    No idea.

  81. 81 Observer 27 October 2008 at 11:22 pm

    Larrabee is one of several well-known partners who have not been reported as having new firms lined up. Don’t know what’s up with that.

  82. 82 Yet another ex-Hellerite 28 October 2008 at 11:07 am

    Probably evading service in a bunker somewhere…


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Last Modified: September 14, 2008

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