Lawyer Loses ERISA Claim against Firm

July 2, 2007 ( - A former partner of the Holland & Knight law firm who sued over allegations he was fired because of his age has had the claim thrown out of court.

The New York Law Journal reported that U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York threw out the claim in the 2005 suit by plaintiff John K. Weir because the suit was filed after legal deadlines had expired.

Weir alleged that he was fired at age 55 in 2002 in part so the firm could avoid paying him retirement benefits – in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

But Swain ruled that suits alleging wrongful terminations aimed at interfering with ERISA benefits are subject in New York to the same two-year statute as claims under the state’s Workers’ Compensation law and that the time period began with Weir’s 2002 termination and not the end of his benefits in 2004.

W eir had been a partner at New York’s Haight Gardner Poor & Havens when that firm merged with Holland & Knight in 1997.

In addition to his ERISA allegations, Weir used the suit to allege his employer had violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act by firing him because he raised questions about $5 million in legal fees he claimed the firm misappropriated. According to the Law Journal, the parties agreed to the dismissal of that claim.