Litigation

rise to every challenge

advocating for your interests

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Stuart A. Berman
Of Counsel
301-657-0729
Lauri E. Cleary
Principal
301-657-0176
Marc R. Engel
Principal
301-657-0184
Michael J. Goecke
Principal
301-657-0185
William A. Goldberg
Principal
301-907-2813
Theodore R. Goldstock
Principal
301-347-1274
Caitlin C. Grant
Associate
301-347-1272
J. Bradford McCullough
Principal
301-657-0734
Michael J. Neary
Principal
301-657-0740
Julie A. Reddig
Principal
301-961-6099
Stanley J. Reed
Principal
301-657-0177
Joshua C. Schmand
Associate
301-347-1273
Stuart A. Schwager
Principal
301-347-1271
Shirley M. Steinbach
Of Counsel
301-657-0172

Lerch Early’s litigation team helps businesses, including nonprofits, and individuals resolve disputes throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Clients quoted in leading international legal directory Chambers USA s describe our team as “outstanding,” describing our attorneys as “very responsive,” and saying that we “give common sense advice, and provide good strategy."

We champion the interests of corporations as plaintiffs and defendants in complex commercial disputes. These include companies ranging from local family businesses to national and international corporations, as well as real estate owners and investors, professional service providers, and nonprofits around the Beltway, Lerch Early attorneys are skilled at negotiating, trying, and handling appeals of employment claims, contract disputes, real estate controversies and commercial issues.

In addition, we represent companies and corporate executives, professionals, and other individuals in professional responsibility and white collar criminal matters, from grand jury and administrative investigations through final appeal, if necessary.

People come to us for our extensive knowledge of and familiarity with the circuit and district courts, both state and federal, particularly in Montgomery County, suburban Maryland, Washington, DC, and the Virginia suburbs. Once they work with us, our clients appreciate how we take every matter personally, look out for all of their interests, and keep them fully informed and supported along the way. “I’m crazy about the lawyers I work with,” said one client to Chambers USA. “I think they’re phenomenal, terrific people.” Lerch Early clients always know where their cases stand, and they understand the challenges and decisions that lie ahead, confident that they are partnered with an experienced team invested in their success.

Contact

Lauri E. Cleary
Chair

Experience

General Commercial

  • In a “bet the company” case based on a purported non-compete provision arising out of the sale of the client’s company, developed a winning affirmative defense theory and obtained a judgment for the client that was affirmed on appeal.
  • Represented a board member of an international flavoring company against claims of misappropriation and breach of fiduciary duty; obtained summary judgment against plaintiff in federal court, which was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit.
  • Served as lead counsel for an international leasing company in complex, multi-party litigation involving national labor union and large commercial banks defending claims of fraud, fraudulent inducement, breach of contract, and conspiracy.
  • Represented a family and related trusts in five-day trial against a regional bank in which the family sought to invalidate a series of commercial agreements, including multiple life insurance assignments, resulting in a $1.5 million award to our client.
  • Represented the former executive producer of a nationally known television program in a breach of contract action relating to ownership interest in The Crime Museum in Washington, DC.
  • Represented dental implant manufacturer in patent and trademark litigation.
  • Represented software manufacturer in contract, quasi-contract, indemnification, and warranty litigation.
  • Represented owner of a closely held business in action against other shareholders for breach of fiduciary duties and misappropriation of corporate assets.
  • Represented 50% shareholder in a professional corporation in dispute with the other shareholder, resulting in a successful business divorce.
  • Represented a nonprofit organization in litigation in the U.S. District Court with former contractor that misappropriated the organization’s business assets. Obtained order for constructive trust over contractor’s business assets and their eventual recovery for the client.
  • Defeated a multi-million dollar damage claim against a healthcare system and hospital at both trial and on appeal, obtaining a declaratory judgment for our clients.
  • Successfully represented automobile dealer in challenging top manufacturer’s refusal to approve sale of franchise in federal litigation resolved by a confidential, mediated settlement.
  • Represented automobile dealer in shareholder dispute resulting in purchase of entire dealership.
  • Successfully defended two NBA players and a sports agent in breach of contract litigation, gaining dismissal of the case based on a lack of personal jurisdiction.
  • Represented whistleblowers and defendants in False Claims Act litigation.
  • Represented corporate victim of fraud committed by former executive.


Employment

  • Successfully defended a major healthcare nonprofit in an eight-day jury trial in which a nurse alleged wrongful termination in violation of Maryland’s Healthcare Whistleblower statute. The jury returned a verdict in favor of our client.
  • Successfully represented Fortune 100 company employing more than 500 local workers to defend claims of disability and other forms of discrimination before the EEOC and Maryland Commission on Human Rights.
  • Guided local university through reductions in force and other terminations to meet strategic goals and respond to economic conditions.
  • Guided executives and other managerial employees in dozens of industries and professions through the negotiation of executive separation agreements and new employment agreements.
  • Successfully prosecuted and defended alleged breaches of non-compete agreements in Maryland, DC, and Virginia federal and state courts.
  • Resolved dispute on behalf of a large local professional services firm involving allegations of intentional damage to a business relationship. Settled prior to trial with financial terms that were significantly more favorable than what the client expected, and in a manner that allowed the various parties to maintain professional relationships.
  • Favorably settled a very challenging, multi-faceted overtime case brought by disgruntled employees.
  • Prevailed over allegations of national origin discrimination made by a former employee of our client in the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR), which issued a finding of no probable cause for the allegations.

Real Estate

  • Won a trial verdict in a contract dispute between a landlord and tenant in DC Superior Court that enabled the landlord to collect 100% of previously withheld payments, as well as attorneys’ fees.
  • Successfully defended a local Seventh-day Adventist church, its parent denomination, and its construction manager in a multimillion-dollar flooding claim, winning a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County and winning affirmance of that verdict in the Court of Special Appeals, (clarifying Maryland’s law of nuisance). Succeeded on all but one issue (the trial judge’s dismissal of one of our opponent’s claims at trial) in the Court of Appeals, and subsequently resolved the only remaining claim on favorable terms.
  • Won a six-figure judgment and obtained possession of property on behalf of a national retailer in an action against a Montgomery County franchise tenant.
    Won a trial verdict in Montgomery County Circuit Court, securing an easement that enabled the owner of over 100 acres of landlocked farmland to access and sell portions of the property and its density rights.
  • Successfully defended the owner of a multimillion-dollar property against charges that renovations violated the community’s restrictive covenants. Despite the covenants, the court ruled in our client’s favor, holding that that plaintiffs had failed to notify him in a timely manner. The victory saved our client hundreds of thousands of dollars in remediation costs.
  • Represented landlord (restaurant) against tenant (nightclub in downtown DC) and obtained six-figure judgment for back rent.
  • Represented minority member of an LLC that owned a restaurant and bar on Capitol Hill, successfully negotiating settlement agreement giving control of the company to our client.
  • Prevailed after a three-day bench trial in a contract and construction dispute between a landlord and tenant involving construction build-out delays on a popular bar in Dupont Circle. Obtained and enforced judgment for $165K and also recovered an additional $85K in attorney’ fees.
  • Relying on the “business judgment rule,” successfully defended decisions made by a community association, twice prevailing in the appellate court and then enforcing the association’s decision in the trial court.
  • Defeated attack on a developer’s rezoning and development plan, prevailing both on the administrative appeal in the trial court and again in the appellate court.
  • Obtained a favorable settlement of third-party claims against the seller of an apartment complex in a multi-million dollar claim arising from the sale of that complex.
  • Prevailed on behalf of the board of directors of Maryland’s largest cooperative housing corporation against shareholder claims of fiduciary duty breach in a two-day bench trial, and then before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which affirmed the trial court’s verdict.
  • Obtained favorable verdict for the board of directors of a large homeowners association in defamation action in a three-day jury trial and before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which affirmed the verdict in a published opinion.
  • Successfully defended in the Maryland Court of Appeals (Maryland’s highest court) the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints retention of its religious exemption on a Montgomery County apartment complex that houses religious workers serving the Washington Temple. The Court of Appeals deemed the case to be of such legal significance that it took the case from the intermediate appellate court, then upheld the trial judge’s ruling that the property qualified for exemption as a “convent.”
  • Successfully represented landlord (restaurant) against tenant (pizza store) and evicted tenant for non-payment of rent.
  • Represented Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees in lawsuits challenging terminations.

White Collar

  • Served as defense trial co-counsel in 2013 three-month jury trial of a defendant indicted in one of the most significant health care fraud prosecutions in the United States.
  • Successfully represented employee witness in major corruption case involving elected official in Prince George’s County.
  • Represented executives of domestic and foreign corporations in U.S. Department of Justice price fixing investigations
  • Represented chief information officer of non-profit organization in DOJ wire fraud investigation
  • Represented former investment bank executive in DOJ fraud and money laundering investigation
  • Represented former CEO of independent drilling company in DOJ securities fraud investigation.
  • Represented current and former federal, state, and corporate officials in DOJ public corruption and conflict of interest investigations.
  • Represented employees of medical device manufacturer in DOJ investigation of “off label marketing” violations of Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act.
  • Represented former executive of information technology company in Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement litigation

Estates/Trusts

  • Served as lead counsel in contested estate matter resulting in the Orphans’ Court requiring personal representative’s return of $100,000 in excess compensation to the estate for distribution to our clients, the beneficiaries.
  • Represented client in complicated trust litigation and obtained favorable settlement weeks after filing complaint for misrepresentation and before any discovery was taken.
    Won summary judgment on 28 out of 29 issues in a complex will contest between siblings in Montgomery County Circuit Court. As a result, the sibling challenging the will withdrew his final issue on the eve of trial, and forfeited his claim to 25% of the estate.
  • Recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars for personal representative of an estate alleging fraud and other misconduct by one of the decedent’s children. By involving the Office of the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, which investigated and identified criminal conduct, obtained a swift and comprehensive settlement.
  • Recovered inheritance of nearly $50,000 for a 90-year-old homeless man in a pro bono representation that enabled him to receive critical medical treatment.

Petroleum Marketing

  • Represented Philadelphia area service station dealer to obtain temporary and preliminary injunctive relief against regional distributor, blocking termination of the dealer’s petroleum franchise.
  • Represented Baltimore gas station/convenience store operator facing closure by the Police Commissioner under city padlock law and termination of franchise by its supplier due to alleged illegal drug activity occurring on station property.
  • Represented multiple northern Virginia service station dealers in federal suit seeking to enforce right of first refusal under Virginia Petroleum Products Franchise Act to purchase station properties after transfer.
Success Stories

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