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Cellino accused of harming firm's image, brand, reputation

Case back in court Thursday
Posted at 9:32 AM, Jul 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-25 18:42:12-04

The legal battle between the two faces of one of Western New York's most prominent law firms is getting more complex.

A judge signed a restraining order against Ross Cellino, directing him not to take any actions that would hurt the law firm Cellino and Barnes.

In newly filed court documents, lawyers argue Cellino has "irreparably harmed Cellino and Barnes, is reputation, its image and its brand." 

Attorneys for Barnes say Cellino filed a "meritless Petition for dissolution" and has "illicitly solicited C&B employees to join his new 'Cellino firm.'"  In these documents, they say this was a "planned and deliberate attack" against Barnes and the firm.

Documents say, "[Cellino and two others] also analogized C&B to Harley-Davidson in their attempt to solicit C&B personnel by claiming that the 'Cellino' name is 'better' than the 'Barnes' name because 'no one ever calls their motorcycle a Davidson.'"

Further, attorneys say Cellino sent emails to staffers to bring them to his new firm, before the electronic filing for dissolution even went through. The subject line was "Vision for your Future."

They also argue "Cellino has attempted to manufacture malfunction in an otherwise extremely successful and effective law firm."

According to these court documents, Cellino and Barnes has lost two attorneys and a $20 million case.  An outside attorney, according to the filing, told the client the firm was "going under."

Barnes wants the status quo maintained within the law firm. 

An attorney for Cellino called the allegations false.

This case goes back to court on Thursday afternoon.