A legal recruiter sued by a lawyer she recruited has filed an answer that denies all the suit’s allegations and states the pair “never entered into any agreements that imposed obligations on all parties.” The July 21 Defendants’ Original Answer in Chris L. Gilbert v. Diane Caldwell, individually, and Caldwell & Associates Inc. asks Dallas County Court-at-Law No. 1 to deny the plaintiff’s claims, dismiss the suit and award the defendants attorneys’ fees. “She’s been in this business 30 years, and she’s never once had an issue, and she’s really flabbergasted these allegations are being made,” says Julie Heath, a partner in Farrow-Gillespie & Heath in Dallas who represents both defendants. Heath adds that Caldwell “cannot wait for the dayshe can make absolutely clear all this stuff he contends she did wrongfully is just not true.” Gilbert’s June 29 petition makes the following allegations: In 2008, Caldwell (which he uses throughout to refer to both defendants) made representations that she was an "independent recruiter" when she recruited Gilbert from K&L Gates in Nashville to work at Patton Boggs in Dallas. Following meetings at Patton Boggs, Gilbert said he was more interested in another firm, but Caldwell said his issues with Patton Boggs would be resolved "because Gilbert would be made practice leader in Dallas, have total management over the department and make more money than in the other firm." Gilbert alleges the "promises Caldwell made were false" and he "later learned that Caldwell was on retainer from Patton Boggs to find lateral partners with business." Gilbert's causes of action include negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. The defendants’ answer says they aren’t liable because Gilbert’s “own acts or omissions proximately caused or contributed to” his injury and because “[p]laintiff did not mitigate his damages, if any.” The answer also says Gilbert’s claims are barred by the statute of limitations, ratification, waiver, the economic-loss rule and the statute of frauds. Caldwell asks the court to strike or order Gilbert to replead the claims for breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract. Regarding the fiduciary duty claim, the answer says Gilbert “has assumed a fiduciary duty between a legal recruiter and a job applicant, but he has not set forth the basis for the imposition of such a duty.” About the contract claim, the answer says Gilbert did not “set forth when or how an agreement arose, what the parties’ obligations were under the agreement, or whether the agreement is reflected in any written document. Further, Plaintiff has not stated that he performed or tendered performance of any obligations under an alleged contract.” Rogge Dunn of Clouse Dunn in Dallas represents Gilbert. He says Caldwell’s answer does not address an allegation in Gilbert’s original petition that Caldwell represented she was an independent recruiter while she was on retainer for Patton Boggs. “This headhunter went out and tried to dissuade [Gilbert] from going to other firms,” Dunn says. He adds: “She had a special relationship with Patton Boggs. That’s the bottom line.” In an interview when the suit was filed, Caldwell said she was an independent contractor when she recruited Gilbert to Patton Boggs and she was not under a retainer with the firm.
-- Angela Morris