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STANLEY WEISS JEROME E. SHARFMAN and THOMAS J. LENNON Plaintiffs-Respondents
vs.
CARPENTER BENNETT & MORRISSEY EDWARD F. RYAN and MICHAEL S. WATERS Defendants-Appellants and JOHN DOE-1 through JOHN DOE-10 partners of Carpenter Bennett & Morrissey Defendants. CARPENTER BENNETT & MORRISEY EDWARD F. RYAN and MICHAEL S. WATERS Plaintiffs-Appellants v. STANLEY WEISS JEROME E. SHARFMAN and THOMAS J. LENNON Defendants-Respondents.


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Issues:
Public policy.
 
Case Summary:
Stanley Weiss, Jerome Sharfman, and Thomas Lennon resign from their law firm, and seek to recover shares of the firm's capital account which they say they are entitled to through the a partnership agreement. The agreement limits the such distributions to those individuals over age 65, those impaired by permanent disability, or the survivors of deceased partners. The matter was referred to an arbitrator who decided that Sharfman and Lennon should receive a share of the firm's 1991 income but not the additional money they would have been entitled to if they remained until age 65. Weiss was estopped (barred) from contesting the forfeiture provisions because he was a member of the firm's executive committee. The arbitrator said Weiss had helped draft the original agreement, and therefore understood and endorsed these provisions. Weiss now challenges the ruling.
 
Decision of lower jurisdiction:
The trial court of the Chancery Division confirmed the arbitrator's award in all respects. Weiss appealed the decision. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court agreed with the arbitrator concerning the enforceability of the partnership. However, the court reversed the arbitrator's decision barring Weiss from challenging the forfeiture provisions on public policy grounds. The court concluded that the estoppel doctrine was misapplied to Weiss.
 
Outcome:
Weiss loses. The Supreme Court of New Jersey affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Division but agreed that the part of the award relating to the estoppel issue must be vacated.