S&F Appeals WPP Suit, Sues NDTV

The law firm Sabharwal & Finkel, which last month lost its libel suit against WPP CEO Martin Sorrell, has appealed the decision in a New York Court. Separately, S&F has sued its former client New Delhi Television for $1.7 million in back fees related to an unsuccessful suit NDTV brought against Nielsen and WPP concerning what NDTV claimed was a faulty joint-venture ratings service operated by the companies in India.

It’s been a tough few months for S&F.

In March, a New York Judge tossed the $1 billion suit its then-client NDTV had brought against Nielsen and WPP, ruling that the case should be heard in India. Then in April, NDTV terminated the firm’s services without paying the fees that S&F say are owed to them. In May, using different lawyers, NDTV appealed the decision concerning the rating service, naming Nielsen but not WPP as a defendant.

It was also last month that a separate New York Court dismissed S&F’s libel suit against Sorrell. The WPP chief gave an interview last year after word of the NDTV lawsuit broke that S&F claimed hurt their business and reputation. The court essentially said S&F didn’t make its case and tossed the suit.

Now S&F is firing back. In the suit against NDTV, S&F said its services were based on a retainer agreement (not so far filed with the court) and on a “partial contingency basis.” S&F said in its suit that NDTV, upon terminating the law firm, stated that it owed S&F nothing more. S&F has countered that the unpaid portion of the “reasonable value of the services it performed” is at least $1.7 million.

NDTV has not yet replied to the complaint, but U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams has ordered the parties to appear at a pre-trial conference in August in New York.

In the libel suit appeal, S&F argues that New York State Supreme Court Judge Cynthia Kern “erred in usurping the role of a jury.” She also erred in “deeming some of the defamatory statements at issue to be opinion.” Kern made several other mistakes as well, according to the appeal papers filed last week.

WPP stated: "We have been made aware that Sabharwal & Finkel, LLC, Rohit Sabharwal and Adam Finkel have appealed the dismissal of the lawsuit issued in the Supreme Court of New York against Sir Martin Sorrell. WPP welcomed the complete dismissal of this frivolous and inappropriate law suit and is confident that any appeal will also be dismissed, in its entirety."

Tags: agency, india, legal, tv
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