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Seventh Circuit Affirms District Court’s Order Quashing Attorney Lien in Employment Law Dispute

Attorney-Appellant Barry Gomberg represented appellee Anil Goyal briefly in settlement negotiations concerning Goyal’s retaliation claim for whistle-blowing against his employer, Gas Technology Institute (GTI). The negotiations were fruitless and Gomberg’s representation of Goyal ended when Goyal rejected GTI’s settlement offer of $375,000. Five years later, Goyal settled the case with GTI for about $1.3 million without a lawyer. However, when Gomberg represented Goyal, he had given GTI notice of an attorney lien on any settlement or judgment regarding the case. After Goyal settled and Gomberg demanded a share, GTI paid a portion of the settlement to him rather than to Goyal. Goyal sought to quash Gomberg’s lien and the district court granted the motion. Gomberg appealed claiming the lien was proper. The Seventh Circuit affirmed the order of the district court quashing the lien. The Seventh Circuit is now questioning Gomberg’s professional conduct. The court has given him fourteen days to show cause why it should not impose sanctions under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 38 and why it should not forward a copy of its opinion to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (ARDC).