Frank Azar, whose countless ads and ubiquitous billboards have made him the region’s best-known attorney, will begin a trial on Monday with millions of dollars at stake.
But rather than representing the plaintiff, his company will be the plaintiff.
In February 2020, Franklin D. Azar & Associates sued a former class action attorney at the firm, Ivy Ngo. He accused Ngo of using confidential information to recruit his clients and other Azar & Associates lawyers from a competing law firm after Ngo was fired from the Azar firm.
In October that year, Ngo counterattacked, claiming that Azar and his company had spread lies and defamed her as part of a “smear campaign” aimed at destroying her career.
A jury chosen on Monday must decide the two questions: whether Ngo committed a breach of contract and whether Azar, with Azar & Associates, committed defamation. Azar believes Ngo owes about $90,000 for the breach and should pay his attorney fees. Ngo believes Azar owes $3-3.5 million for the defamation and should pay his attorney fees.
The 10-day trial in Denver District Court will offer insight into the doors of Azar & Associates, the powerhouse personal injury firm Azar founded in Aurora in 1987.
But jurors in the case won’t hear some of the more salacious allegations Ngo has leveled against Azar. Judge David Goldberg barred Ngo’s lawyers from accusing Azar of abusing drugs and alcohol in his office, exhibiting ‘erratic behavior’, making improper payments to clients and of having committed sexual, racial and pregnancy discrimination.
Ngo was the head of the class action division at Azar & Associates between January 2018 and January 2020. Azar claims she was then rightfully fired for trying to alienate attorneys and clients from the firm; Ngo says she was wrongfully fired for looking for other jobs.
Ngo claims that after she was fired, Azar contacted her potential clients and employers and falsely told them that she had stolen trade secrets and mishandled confidential information. Azar denies defaming Ngo in discussions with clients and other law firms.
Ngo now works as a class action attorney in the Miami office of Freedman Normand Friedland.
In a related case, Azar is suing his law firm’s insurance company in federal court because it only agreed to cover 10% of the costs he incurred defending against Ngo’s claims. . Azar is suing to force him to cover 100% of the costs. The case is ongoing.
In an unrelated case, Azar is also fighting the Internal Revenue Service in US tax court over a 2017 tax bill and suing two of his former accountants in Arapahoe County District Court for negligence. alleged that led to this tax bill. The Tax Court case is due in January and the Accountant’s case is due in May.
This story was reported by our partner BusinessDen.