Tampa Bay Business Journal - April 11, 2005

Business News - Local News

Zuckerman Spaeder recognized for high-profile cases

Tampa Bay Business Journal - by Carl Cronan Senior staff writer

TAMPA -- Contributions between multi-state law firms and their local offices are a two-way street, with the latter helping the larger organization achieve national recognition in at least one instance.

Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that counts Tampa among five other cities in which it practices, was named as one of five top law firms in American Lawyer's inaugural "Litigation Boutique of the Year" competition in the magazine's January issue.

As the only East Coast law firm named to the list, Zuckerman Spaeder was chosen for its track record of preparation, integrity and positive results defending clients in high-profile civil and white-collar litigation.

The magazine highlighted the work of Morris "Sandy" Weinberg Jr., partner in charge of the firm's Tampa office, who won a case on behalf of Dow Lohnes & Albertson in a legal malpractice lawsuit dating back to 1990.

An article stated that Weinberg "had to master the nuances" of Federal Communications Commission regulations in representing Dow Lohnes, which had advised a precursor of St. Petersburg-based Home Shopping Network on a "placeholder" contract to acquire 45 percent of a Chicago television station. HSN's claims against Dow Lohnes were dismissed on summary judgment, according to the magazine.

Weinberg, a former federal prosecutor and private law practitioner, established Zuckerman Spaeder's Tampa office in July 1991. The local office, which handles complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal cases, now has 10 lawyers among the 93 working throughout the firm, and Weinberg calls them "the best I have ever hired."

The Tampa office primarily represents individuals rather than major corporations with in-house legal teams. Among its clients is HCA Inc., for which Weinberg served as a lead lawyer in the health care company's massive fraud investigation.

Zuckerman Spaeder's local office also represented retired four-star Gen. Wallace Nutting against federal charges of defense contractor fraud, as well as the Church of Scientology, for which he achieved the dismissal of charges in the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson.

The firm currently represents Borden Chemical Inc. in an ongoing lawsuit regarding contamination at Coronet Industries in Plant City. Borden owned the site during the 1960s and '70s.

Weinberg, a Chattanooga, Tenn., native and Vanderbilt University law school graduate, spent five years as a trial lawyer in Atlanta before serving as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1979 until 1986.

During that time, Weinberg served as lead counsel in the federal government's case against Mark Rich, a financier who was indicted in 1983 on charges of evading more than $48 million in taxes. Rich was also charged with 51 counts of tax fraud and with running illegal oil deals with Iran during the hostage crisis, Time magazine reported.

Rich, who moved to Switzerland after being prosecuted, was pardoned of criminal charges by President Bill Clinton prior to leaving office in January 2001.

Other successful Zuckerman Spaeder cases cited by American Lawyer include:

  • the defense of Thomas Welch, former president of the Salt Lake City Olympic Committee, on criminal bribery charges related to the 2002 winter games.
  • a bankruptcy settlement between Metromedia Fiber Network Inc. and Citigroup Inc. that centered on Citigroup's efforts to recover a $67-million loan.
  • a win on appeal by the Oneida Indian Nation protecting it from a property tax levy on the repurchase of thousands of acres in upstate New York that the tribe originally owned.

ccronan@bizjournals.com | 813.342.2468

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.