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Barnes agrees to law firm break-up with Cellino

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Posted at 5:53 PM, Jan 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-03 19:41:06-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The high-profile and drawn-out legal dispute between longtime law partners Celino & Barnes may soon be over.

In a sworn affidavit filed today in State Supreme Court, Ross Cellino Jr. said Stephen Barnes "now accepts the reality of this situation and has advised this Court that he will consent to a dissolution of Cellino & Barnes P.C."

The affidavit goes on to state, "Barnes and I are each making plans to be prepared in the very near future - i.e. within the next 30 days - to open our own separate law firms."

The partners, however, still appear to be at odds over the role an IT worker will play in the split.

Cellino filed civil court documents in State Supreme Court in the spring of 2017 seeking to dissolve the personal injury firm, which began in Buffalo and has offices across the country. The documents revealed allegations of client poaching and nepotism.

Judge Deobrah Chimes ha granted a temporary restraining order preventing Cellino and his team from proceeding further independently without the approval of Barnes.

Barnes issued this statement to 7 Eyewitness News on Friday:
"Mr. Barnes has decided to unite his personal injury practice in California with his practice in New York State. Barnes currently maintains a large personal practice in Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. Barnes will soon unite this west coast practice with his even larger personal injury practice in Manhattan, Long Island, Rochester and Buffalo. Barnes anticipates that a substantial majority of the New York attorneys and clients will join Barnes’s national law firm, to be called The Barnes Firm. Mr. Cellino has no ownership interest in any part of Barnes’s California practice, nor will Cellino be a part of the expanded national firm to be established by Barnes in the near future. Mr. Barnes is confident that there will be uninterrupted continuity in the service provided to all firm clients."