Cellino & Barnes Splitting

Cellino and Barnes, known around the country for their famous ‘don’t wait call 8’ commercial jingle, is heading into a ugly split up. Made up of personal injury lawyers Ross M. Cellino Jr. and Stephen Barnes, the two have been long time partners in legal practice until only recently.  According to Buffalo station WGRZ-TV, the dispute began with Cellino filing a lawsuit against Barnes in New York State Supreme Court to dissolve the firm, ending a 30 year partnership. The partners have law offices across New York state, and in Los Angeles, Oakland, and in San Diego.

Cellino later presented his petition to file to the court which contained eight pages showing the areas in which Cellinoa and Barnes have disagreed. Some of these disagreements included in the suit was compensation for the firm’s employees, new hires, policies on screening potential cases, the election of the corporation’s officers, and marketing and expansion strategies. The petition also showed that Cellino and Barnes are equal partners, sharing 50 percent of shares in the company. For this reason, the company’s board of directors has been made effectively useless. This fact is solidified in the petition which states:

“Given that the shares of capital stock are equally divided between petitioner Cellino and respondent Barnes, the shareholders are so divided that the votes required for the election of directors cannot be obtained, and it is impossible to select a new board of directors,”

Contrary to what can be expected, this dispute between Cellino and Barnes has not affected the day-to-day operations of their firm. In fact Cellino & Barnes continues to grow, advertise, and advocate for their clients even while the two heads of the firm duke it out in court. According to reports, the firm has roughly 12,000 clients, 230 employees and spends millions on advertising every year.

The dispute has gotten especially fiery more recently, as the two throw salacious statements at one another in court. From accusations of Cellino alleged ‘poaching’ of clients and staff, to Barnes being accused of being ‘dictatorial,’ for forcing their employees to pledge ‘loyal oaths.’ In a dramatic turning point in the suit, Barnes was found absent from a hearing over the breakup of his law firm. This led to a messy shake up in court when Barnes’ attorney, Gregory Photiadis, seemed to contradict Barnes’ claims by arguing the firm was “functioning as a well-oiled, multimillion-dollar machine,” Later in the proceedings, Cellino’s attorney, Terrence Connors, accused Barnes of taking funds from the company to fund a California offshoot. The dispute got especially ugly when Cellino argued that the ‘Cellino’ name is ‘better than the ‘Barnes’” name, comparing the whole debacle to Harley Davidson saying, “No one ever calls their motorcycle a Davidson,”

A settlement has yet to be reached in this dispute, however, Barnes wants to keep the partnership together claiming that he’s, “more than willing to continue to work with Ross (Cellino) in the future,” This dispute has not hindered business for Cellino & Barnes however, as according to new court papers, the partners have pocketed $2 million each in the past 11 weeks since the lawsuit was filed.

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