Athens: NewLead’s defence attorneys Reed Smith yesterday received permission to withdraw from the breach of contract case brought by TransAsia Commodities, which is being heard in the New York Supreme Court.
The plaintiff’s attorneys told Splash today that Judge Charles E Ramos has given the firm permission to withdraw, but has not granted a stay in proceedings, which will continue according to the current schedule.
“Reed Smith’s “Emergency” motion to withdraw and stay this action should be denied because it is a transparent ploy to delay these proceedings and frustrate the discovery process,” TransAsia’s counsel said in its memorandum of law opposing Reed Smith’s motion to withdraw, filed on June 12. Reed Smith applied for resignation on June 8, as Splash reported previously.
In a court-filed affirmation, Reed Smith said it was seeking a retaining lien on the defence case file until it received payment of its legal fees from the defendants, which comprise NewLead Holdings, its CEO Michael Zolotas, coal mining subsidiary NewLead JMEG and its chief executive Jan Berkowitz.
“Of course, allowing Reed Smith to have a retaining lien until such time as they are paid in full is but one more way for NewLead to ensure that this case enters an indefinite state of suspended animation,” TransAsia said of the lien in its June 12 memo.
TransAsia’s counsel has a motion for a partial summary judgment pending before the judge; the defendants have yet to file a response and must do so by June 23. A hearing is expected to be held in mid-July.
Cozen O’ Connor, the plaintiff’s counsel, told Splash today that next it plans to move to take deposition of individual defendants by July 15, as ordered by the court.
The London-based commodity trader is seeking $6.2m in compensation over a failed agreement to buy 110,000 tonnes of coal from NewLead JMEG, a coal mining joint venture with NewLead Holdings. The coal was never delivered to the trader, which alleges that NewLead JMEG signed the multimillion-dollar sales agreements to inflate its share price and to obtain credit from banks. The defendants have denied the allegations in full.
UPDATE: Shortly after this story was originally published, a spokeswoman for NewLead Holdings told Splash: “NewLead is already engaging a new law firm to the case and is in the process of lifting the lien in order for the new law firm to get fully up to speed”.