Business Litigation

Overview

Ifrah Law is known for providing the expertise and experience that high-profile clients expect from big firms, along with the benefits of direct, speedy attorney access and cost efficiency that can only be provided by boutique firms. We have successfully represented clients in commercial litigation matters on issues ranging from breach of contract, copyright and trademark, data security and cybersecurity, employment law and licensing, corporate governance disputes, commercial fraud and alter ego, to name a few.

Since the firm’s inception, Jeff Ifrah and his team have received accolades from clients and peers alike for their innovative approach and successful results across the industries of digital media, online entertainment, interactive sports and gaming, in addition to healthcare and pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, financial services and payment processing, and government contracting.

Trained at the nation’s top law firms and at the highest levels of government and regulatory agencies, our lawyers are consistently recognized as litigation leaders in media outlets like the National Law Journal and ranking directories like Chambers USA. We have tried federal cases across key federal agencies – FTC, CFTC, DOJ, EPA, FDA, FERC, as well as numerous U.S. Attorney’s Offices, District Attorney’s Offices, and state regulatory agencies throughout the country.

In addition to counseling our clients through the challenges of a complex commercial litigation, Ifrah Law also provides integral guidance on post litigation strategy including enforcement and collection. Partner George Calhoun, Chair of our Financial Services practice, brings decades of experience in insolvency and creditor’s rights law to our team, enhancing our ability to advise clients not only on the likelihood of judicial success but the viability of collecting on claims, either domestically or in an international context.

Case Studies

Defending a Healthcare Provider Against Claims of Fraud

Our client, a prominent anesthesiologist, employed a medical services billing specialist to submit insurance claims for his practice and surgery center. The terms of the specialist’s contract stated that she would receive 18% of each claim she filed using a specific step-by-step submission and follow-up process.

After the billing specialist was terminated for not following the established submission procedures, she sued the doctor to retain her full commission on outstanding claims she had worked on prior to her dismissal, including those that hadn’t yet been paid. In addition to this contract dispute, she also accused our client and his surgery center of fraud, alleging that they funneled money into a “secret account” to avoid paying her commission under the contract.

Although there was very little basis for the fraud claim, the court allowed it to move forward.  Jeff understood the importance of attempting a settlement on the contract claim, so he analyzed the agreement and claims reports and devised a methodology for valuing the claim. When the plaintiff refused to settle, Jeff and the client pursued mediation with confidence, understanding both the fair value of the case and specific details of the parties’ contract. During mediation, the plaintiff’s side raised several arguments that demonstrated their lack of familiarity with the contract.  Jeff’s thorough understanding of certain provisions allowed the defendant to quickly address and dismiss the arguments.  As a result, the plaintiff ended up settling for much less than she originally claimed.

While the settlement terms are confidential, our client was thrilled with the final result, not only with the amount and the dismissal of the fraud claims, but also in terms of how well the matter was handled.

Ongoing Defense of TCPA Claims against Financial Services Company

Ifrah Law represents a financial services company against in several matters involving claims under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) which allege violations in connection with debt servicing calls.  We are currently litigating and arbitrating over 25 cases for this client in many jurisdictions across the United States.

The potential collective cost to the client is significant in TCPA cases, which allow for statutory damages of up to $500 per call, and $1500 per call if a violation is deemed willful.

Ifrah Law’s team has been consistently successful in negotiating satisfactory resolutions of many of these claims. We have also succeeded in attaining positive results for our client in arbitration proceedings.  We have litigated or arbitrated these matters in states such as Florida, Maryland, Illinois, Virginia, New York, and the District of Columbia.

Defense of Retaliatory Discharge Case Results in Precedent-Setting Ruling

Ifrah’s defense of its clients, Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions LLC (“TAES”) and Scott Torres, who were charged in a retaliatory discharge case, not only turned out to be a victory for the defendants, but it was also a resounding victory for employers and the court system. The ruling, made in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, set important precedent regarding federal pre-emption in worker’s compensation issues overseas and retaliatory discharge charges.

Two former employees of Ifrah’s clients claimed that they were improperly discharged in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”) and Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation Act. They were working for TAES at Forward Operating Base Shield in Iraq when they were discharged.

Ifrah argued that the DBA provided the exclusive remedy for the plaintiffs’ causes of action and otherwise preempted their case. In a 26-page opinion, the judge dismissed all four counts of the First-Amended Complaint, agreeing with Ifrah’s argument. She further held that plaintiffs’ remaining common-law causes of action, including breach of contract, were preempted under the DBA. Specifically, she noted in her opinion that federal courts across the country have found that the DBA expressly preempts other remedies state law affords to similarly-situated plaintiffs. Accordingly, the doctrine of conflict preemption barred plaintiffs’ common-law claims and mandated their dismissal.

Despite the lack of clear precedent on the issue, the opinion clearly establishes as the law of Washington, D.C. that employees subject to a federal workers’ compensation plan must exhaust their administrative remedies first before filing an action in court. The decision will result in the saving of time and expenses related to litigating complex retaliatory discharge claims that can otherwise be resolved more efficiently in the administrative context.

(Sickle et al v. TorresAdvanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC et al., Case No. 1:11-cv-02224 (U.S. District Court, District of Columbia))

Effectively Advocating for a Government Contractor Facing Debarment

Having spent over 30 years in the environmental and renewable energy industry, our client was dismayed when he received a Notice of Suspension and Proposed Debarment (the Notice) from the EPA. Facing the possibility of a three-year debarment, our client knew that such a black mark would mean not only the end of his company, but also the end of his career.

Ifrah Law set to work on contesting the Notice and addressing the mitigating and aggravating factors. While our written response was strong, the bold and clearly reasoned advocacy we provided during the oral argument had the biggest impact on the case. Ifrah argued that this was a one-time oversight during an alleged emergency situation, for which our client was truly remorseful. But we took the additional step of arguing that that our client never should have been prosecuted in the first place, and that he was the victim of an overzealous prosecutor.

After the record closed, we were told that a settlement of two years was feasible, but we refused to settle. When the decision was rendered, our client faced no debarment whatsoever, allowing him to resume his government contracting business immediately. The EPA legal counsel involved in this matter told us that the advocating we did on our client’s behalf was one of the best she has ever seen.

Obtaining a Winning Verdict After a Business Relationship Dissolves

Our client, Learning Annex, is a national leader in the post-secondary education industry. In three decades of business success, it has established many professional relationships. After Learning Annex created a unique strategy to promote the business of a financial self-help guru through free preview seminars and found a perfect partner for the execution of that strategy, those parties then cut Learning Annex out of the deal. Ifrah Law was part of the legal team that helped Learning Annex vindicate its rights.

David Deitch of Ifrah Law was co-counsel in a lengthy jury trial in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in which Learning Annex sought to recover the value of the services it had provided under theories of quantum meruit and unjust enrichment. The jury found in favor of Learning Annex and awarded damages of over $14 million, which together with pre-judgment interest totaled over $20 million. The court upheld the verdict on liability, but ordered a new trial on damages. After a retrial of damages in April 2012, a second jury awarded Learning Annex even more: $15.8 million plus interest.

(Learning Annex Holdings, LLC v. Whitney Education Group, Inc., No. 09- Civ-4432 (SAS) (S.D.N.Y.))

Protesting Procurement Irregularities to Keep a Client in Competition

A client contractor participated in a procurement competition over a multi-award contract with the Department of the Army that was valued at almost half a billion dollars. After submitting a proposal, our client (along with other bidders) was excluded from the competition because of a deficiency in a proposed labor rate. The other excluded parties protested to the Government Accountability Office, and the Army permitted five of the protesting parties to rejoin the bidding process.

With just a week left before the final proposal revisions were due, our client asked us for help. We filed a U.S. Court of Federal Claims protest asking to reverse the exclusion based on irregularities in the procurement process. We also asked for an injunction to prevent the bidding process from ending.

As a result of our filing and subsequent negotiations with the Department of Justice, our client was permitted to rejoin the bidding and to submit a revised bid.

(Platinum Business Corporation, et al. v. United States, 1:12-cv-00001, Court of Federal Claims, Bid Protest (2012))

Representing an Online Poker Operator in Nevada Federal Court

When a leading online poker company was sued in Nevada by a prominent poker professional and former company endorser, the company put all their chips on the experience of Ifrah Law.

The plaintiff was one of the first women to place highly in a poker tournament. She claimed that during the online company’s early years she was offered a one percent ownership in the firm in exchange for her promotional efforts as a “celebrity player.”

She also claimed that the ownership stake was worth $100,000 a month for every month that the company was making distributions. She sued for breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, unjust enrichment, and fraud. Her attorneys estimated damages to be $40 million, with the additional possibility of punitive damages.

Ifrah Law won a dismissal in the trial – and won three more move to dismiss orders in subsequent actions. The initial motion to dismiss contained allegations that the player’s “typhoon of litigation” was fueled by a “thirst for publicity.”

(Cycalona Gowen v. Tiltware LLC, et al. – Case No.: 2:08-CV-01581-RCJ-RJJ (United States District Court for the District of Nevada))

Successful Challenge to Denial of Top Secret Security Clearance

A renewal for a Top Secret security clearance became career threatening for an Ifrah client’s CFO when the renewal application was denied due to foreign influences concerns. As the CFO of a defense contractor whose continued employment was a condition for the company’s line of credit, maintaining a security clearance was critical for both the CFO and the company. After the Statement of Reasons was issued, the CFO submitted his own letter challenging the decision but it was denied. The CFO then retained Ifrah Law who, on behalf of the client, drafted a written response and successfully mitigated the security concerns. This resulted in the withdrawal of the Statement of Reason and the ultimate renewal of the CFO’s security clearance.

Successful Use of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)

When a blogger posted email exchanges directly from a hacked computer, and the exchanges contained copyrighted material, Ifrah Law utilized the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). DMCA takedowns are a powerful tool in data piracy issues, providing a process for a copyright owner to give notification to an online service provider concerning alleged copyright infringement.

Ifrah Law sent DMCA notices to the two web hosting services in California and Pennsylvania, requesting the immediate takedown of the sites due to copyright infringement. Almost immediately upon receiving the request, the web hosts took down the site or the offending material. We sent a similar notice to Facebook, which took down the offending material, as well.

Copying and stealing of content does not have to be taken for granted on the Internet. Trademarks and intellectual property can and should be protected. You can stop it, and Ifrah Law can show you how.

Successfully Defending a Government Contractor Against a Competitor Protest

A government contractor was awarded a 100% small-business set-aside IDIQ contract, but its success was soon jeopardized. Shortly after contract award, a competitor filed a size protest that challenged the contract award and alleged the government contractor was not a small business because of its affiliation with a larger company. Because of the potentially crippling loss of the entire contract award, the government contractor quickly turned to the expertise and advocacy of Ifrah Law to represent the company before the SBA.

We successfully defended the company against the size protest and the SBA issued a determination that our client qualified as a small business. The outcome of the matter ensured that the contract award remained in place.

Successfully Defending a Government Contractor Against a Terminated Employee’s Health Care Claim

Ifrah Law successfully defended a government contractor against claims by a terminated company employee. Our client, a health care professional supplier, faced allegations that it failed to offer the former employee COBRA insurance coverage, as required under the COBRA statute.

Ifrah Law conducted a bench trial in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in January 2012. The judge sustained minimal claims and awarded the plaintiff a mere $500.

(Middlebrooks v. Godwin Corporation, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, No. 1:10CV1306))

Collecting Judgments in International Jurisdictions

Partner George Calhoun recently secured a significant victory for a client in a long running effort to collect a multibillion dollar judgment.

The firm’s client, Motorola Solutions Credit Company LLC, secured a judgment in the United States against defendants who had sought to defraud the company.  In an attempt to avoid collection, the judgment debtors refused to provide discovery and hid their assets – using multiple nominee owners and shell companies all over the world.  Working with talented investigators, George located significant assets held through shell companies in far flung jurisdictions like Hong Kong, Singapore and Jordan.

George Calhoun led the effort to domesticate Motorola Solutions’ judgment in those foreign jurisdictions and collect from the defendants.  Ifrah’s team successfully navigated the disparate foreign laws and obtained judgment in Hong Kong and Singapore.  In response to those collection efforts, the debtors attempted to sell off assets held through a Jordanian holding company, which was itself the principle asset of the Hong Kong and Singapore entities.  Ifrah’s team succeeded in obtaining an injunction and then getting receivers appointed to halt the attempted transfer of assets.  Through the receivership process, Ifrah eventually achieved the sale of the Jordanian company’s primary asset – a controlling interest in a Jordanian bank.  That sale closed in January 2017 and Ifrah’s client received over $50 million from the sales proceeds in March, 2017.

We continue to seek full enforcement of the judgment through the continued search, identification and liquidation of the judgment debtors’ assets across international jurisdictions.

This case highlights Ifrah Law’s strong ability to follow up on judicial success by creating and implementing successful strategies to locate and collect judgments, especially in a global context. George, who leads our Financial Services and Commercial Litigation practice, brings litigation savvy coupled with decades of experience in insolvency and creditor’s rights law to our team. Over the course of his career, he has developed a strong network of relationships with international lawyers, regulators and organizations, giving him the ability to skillfully navigate domestic and overseas jurisdictions with widely divergent legal systems for the ultimate benefit of his clients.