Accident Complicates Howrey Wind-Down

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Written By admin at Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

The collapse of a Washington, D.C.-area warehouse’s roof this summer has thrown a wrench into the wind-down of defunct law firm Howrey LLP.

Attorney Allan Diamond, who is overseeing Howrey’s bankruptcy liquidation, said in a case status report that the June 28 accident at the Recall document-storage facility is “hindering” his team’s effort to get confidential files back into the hands of Howrey’s former clients. (You can read the full status report, filed in bankruptcy court Monday, here.)

Workers at Recall, located outside of Washington, D.C., in Landover, Md., told reporters that the roof’s collapse was caused by an errant forklift that hit a storage rack and set off a chain of destruction. The accident killed one worker, but rescuers weren’t able to recover the body until several days later because concerns about the building’s structural soundness kept them from entering.

Recall saw a “substantial” portion of its roof collapse in the accident, Mr. Diamond said, “compromising a significant number of stored documents and exposing them to the elements.” About 60,000 boxes of Howrey documents were affected, and it’s too soon to tell what state they’re in.

“Recall is still determining the scope of damage and when, if ever, the documents will be recovered,” said Mr. Diamond, who added that he hopes to return or dispose of all client files by March.

Mr. Diamond identified the proper and ethical disposal of Howrey’s “voluminous” stash of client files as a significant goal of the firm’s wind-down. The firm had 220,000 boxes of documents stored mostly at 12 outside locations around the world, not to mention “hundreds of terabytes” of electronic client files stored on its own servers.

So far, Mr. Diamond said he’s reached out to thousands of former clients and has heard back from 850, about 500 of whom want their files back.

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