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April 2020: Summary Judgment Victory Establishes Basis for Recovering Attorneys’ Fees for Breach of Release

April 2020

The firm recently secured back-to-back victories for pharmaceutical executive Ray Mirra over Gigi Jordan, his former business partner who is currently serving an eighteen-year prison sentence for killing her eight-year-old autistic son. In 2008, Mirra and Jordan terminated their longtime business partnership by entering into a separation agreement and mutual general release. Two years later, Jordan killed her autistic son in a suite at the Peninsula Hotel in Manhattan by force-feeding him a lethal dose of painkillers. As part of her criminal defense, Jordan concocted the outrageous narrative that she had acted under the influence of an extreme emotional disturbance caused by her belief that Mirra and his business associates had engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to steal hundreds of millions of dollars from her, and that Mirra was trying to kill her to cover up the theft. In the process of spreading this lie, she filed a series of lawsuits against Mirra and several of his companies and employees, including a $225 million diversity action in federal court for fraud, fraudulent inducement, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of promissory notes, unjust enrichment, and conversion, among other causes of action.

Quinn Emanuel moved to dismiss nine of the ten causes of action as barred by the statute of limitations and by the terms of the release agreement and for failure to plead the elements of fraud. In November 2017, the District Court for the District of Delaware granted the motion to dismiss with prejudice on all three grounds. While Jordan was left with a single claim for breach of warranties—the only claim we did not contest on the motion to dismiss—we moved for summary judgment on our potentially more valuable counterclaims seeking money damages for Jordan’s breach of the release agreement. On December 20, 2019, the District Court granted our motion for summary judgment as to Jordan’s liability for breach of the release and Mirra’s entitlement to reimbursement of the legal fees he incurred in defending against the released claims, with the precise amount of recoverable fees to be determined at trial. The victory sets an important new precedent on the ability to sue for legal fees incurred in defending against released claims.  

Exactly three weeks later, on January 10, 2020, we achieved the complete dismissal of a related action brought by Hawk Mountain, LLC, an entity controlled by Jordan, seeking $5.3 million plus interest from RAM Capital, LLC, an investment and management company controlled by Mirra, under the terms of a promissory note. The New York Supreme Court, New York County Commercial Division, granted our motion to dismiss the action in its entirety on both grounds we moved upon—that the claims were barred by the statute of limitations and by the terms of the release agreement between Jordan and Mirra. In light of the precedent set in the summary judgment victory three weeks earlier, Mirra now stands to recover his legal fees from the state court action in addition to all the other legal fees to which he is now entitled.