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Lawyer gets $8.7 million after deception about firm’s stability

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in Human Resources

A Texas jury has awarded $8.77 million to an attorney who says his career was derailed when he went to work for a law firm that was embroiled in a nasty dispute between partners.

Gary Cruciani, formerly a partner with McKool Smith in Dallas, joined Dallas-based Baron & Budd in 2006. Cruciani claimed that before he started with Baron & Budd, co-founders Fred Baron and Russell Budd were in the midst of a dispute concerning Baron’s sale of his interest in the firm to Budd. It seemed likely that the disagreement would wind up in court.

But Cruciani didn’t learn about the partners’ clash until after he started working at Baron & Budd. He claimed Budd negligently misrepresented the partners’ personal and professional relationship, falsely implying that the two remained on good terms. He also claimed Budd and the firm negligently misrepresented the firm’s financial soundness and future prospects.

Cruciani left Baron & Budd in 2007 to join another firm, before eventually returning to McKool Smith in 2008—at a lower partnership status than he held in 2006.

After a six-week trial, the 10-person jury ruled in favor of Cruciani. Approximately $5.8 million of the total award was for Cruciani’s future damages—money he would have earned if not for his ill-fated move to Baron & Budd.

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