Tribe Sued For Fraud, Slander, Negligence

A New York lawyer is suing Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law Laurence H. Tribe '62 and Harvard Law School for breach of contract, fraud, slander and interference with contract.

The suit accuses Harvard of negligence in failing to enforce its rule against the maximum number of hours a professor can work on private legal work.

Tribe represented Lightning Lube, Inc. in a case that contested a verdict awarding the company $50 million in punitive damages and $11.5 million in compensatory damages. On appeal, only the $11.5 million award was upheld.

Steven M. Kramer, the attorney in the trial stage of the case, filed the suit against Tribe in January in the United States District Court of New Jersey. In the suit, he is claiming at least $5 million in damages.

Tribe laughed when asked for comment yesterday. "The suit is frivolous. Idon't think the court will take it seriously, andI fully expect the case to be dismissed soon," hesaid.

Tribe said his lawyer had already filed amotion to dismiss the suit.

Kramer's suit claims that Tribe did not masterthe record, write the briefs in their entirety ormeet with Kramer--duties the suit claims wererequired by the original contract.

Instead, the suit claims that Tribe delegatedmuch of this work to Law School graduate JonathanS. Massey '85 and Harvard Law School students.

In addition, the suit states that "instead ofdevoting time to master the record, Tribe spentmuch of late Fall and Winter 1992-1993 lobbyingfor a high government post in the ClintonAdministration."

Kramer alleges that Tribe was fraudulent in notnotifying Lightning Lube of his job search and howit would affect the handling of the case.

Kramer also claims in the suit that Tribe toldLightning Lube's president that Kramer was beingdisbarred, in an attempt to have Kramer removedfrom the case.

Kramer claims this "deprived him of substantialfees" from these litigations.

Tribe said yesterday he thought Kramer wastrying to win part of the fees that Tribe receivedfor the case.

"It is a completely incoherent complaint thatcannot be taken seriously," Tribe said.

According to Kramer, this sum is being held inescrow while Lightning Lube's own suit againstTribe is heard in arbitration. Kramer said hiscontract with Lightning Lube calls for him to pay25 percent of Tribe's fee.

'Rip Off'

"Basically what he did was, in my opinion, ripus off," Kramer said.

University Attorney Allan A. Ryan Jr. saidHarvard would "seek to be dismissed from thelawsuit on the grounds that this is a disputebetween Kramer and Tribe."

Tribe said he did not see any Harvardconnection to this case except that he is aprofessor here.

"It's the first time we [Harvard] have beensued in this context as far as I know," Ryan said