N.Y. law firm sues over $2.3 mln sale of 25-carat diamond ring

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A shop of U.S. jeweler Harry Winston seen in the mountain resort of St. Moritz, Switzerland March 15, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

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  • Patterson Belknap claims sale of ring that belonged to ex-client violated order from court
  • Law firm says ex-client owes more than $3.5 million in legal fees

(Reuters) - Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler is suing a pair of lawyers who worked at a smaller law firm over the $2.37 million sale of a 24.79-carat Harry Winston diamond ring that belonged to a former Patterson Belknap client.

Patterson Belknap said in a 14-page lawsuit filed in New York County Supreme Court Tuesday that lawyer David Marcus, formerly of Marcus & Cinelli, helped an ex-client of Patterson Belknap's sell the ring.

The sale violated a 2013 court order that prohibited the client, who owes Patterson Belknap more than $3.5 million in legal fees, from selling or transferring property without court approval, according to the complaint.

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Marcus did not respond to a request for comment. He now works at The Law Offices of David P. Marcus, according to his LinkedIn profile.

When reached for comment, his former partner, Brian Cinelli, who was also named in the lawsuit, said he had "left" Marcus & Cinelli, but declined to comment further. He is now a partner at Schiffmacher Cinelli Adoff, according to that firm's website.

Marcus & Cinelli is named as a defendant in Patterson Belknap's lawsuit, along with Marcus and Cinelli individually.

Both Marcus and Cinelli's LinkedIn profiles say they exited the firm earlier this year. Phone calls to a number listed online for Marcus & Cinelli now redirect to the Law Offices of David P. Marcus.

After the sale of the ring, Marcus and Cinelli used the proceeds to write checks to the Marcus & Cinelli law firm, Patterson Belknap said in Tuesday's complaint. None of the cash went to the former Patterson Belknap client, Barbara Stewart, the firm said.

Stewart is not a defendant in the lawsuit. Her attorney, Thomas Maimone, of Maimone & Associates, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Patterson Belknap is seeking a $2.37 million judgment against the defendants, as well as damages, attorney fees and a contempt order.

Patterson Belknap is using attorneys from its own firm in the lawsuit. They also did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The case is Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP v. Marcus & Cinelli LLP, New York County Supreme Court, No. Unassigned

For Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler: Daniel Lowenthal and David Kleban of Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.