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Real Estate Developer Sues McGuireWoods for Dropping Him as a Client Amid Racial Discrimination Case Against Wells Fargo

Represent by Beck and Lee Trial Lawyers, Black Business Owner Claims Bank Refused to Deposit His Valid $3M Check Last Year

This case arises out of an egregious breach of the sacrosanct duty of loyalty between attorney and client.”
— Jared Beck, Beck and Lee Trial Attorneys
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES, November 29, 2021 / -- Attorneys with Beck and Lee Trial Lawyers are representing Baltimore real estate developer Ernst Valery, president of SAA as well as president and CEO of EVI, in a lawsuit filed in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City against his former lawyers with McGuireWoods LLP. The complaint claims McGuireWoods breached its client’s loyalty by representing Wells Fargo in the same racial discrimination case Valery brought against the bank last after a branch manager refused to deposit a $3 million check last year.

“This case arises out of an egregious breach of the sacrosanct duty of loyalty between attorney and client,” said Jared Beck. “McGuireWoods cynically abandoned Valery for a more favored institutional client. Law firms can represent multiple clients with adverse interests, but those clients need to sign a written waiver. McGuireWoods never asked my client to sign such a waiver. He was never notified McGuireWoods was representing Wells Fargo until the firm appeared on behalf of the bank.”

In 2018 the plaintiffs paid McGuireWoods and its consulting arm more than $200,000 to provide lobbying and legal services for the renovation of a 496-unit affordable housing project in Henrico County, Virginia called St. Luke Apartments, according to the lawsuit. In Dec. 2020, Valery filed a federal lawsuit against Wells Fargo for racial discrimination, after the bank refused to deposit a $3 million tax-refund check issued by the State of Maryland to Valery in connection with another one of his developments, the Ministry of Brewing in Baltimore.

“Mr. Valery is Black. He learned, after the bank’s refusal to deposit his $3 million check, that it was declined for no reason other than the color of Mr. Valery’s skin at the behest of a Wells Fargo employee with a known animosity against Black people,” Beck said.

According to the lawsuit, while Valery’s legal action against Wells Fargo was unrelated to the St. Luke project, it caused McGuireWoods to abruptly abandon its representation of the plaintiffs whereupon the law firm immediately began defending its legacy client, Wells Fargo, against Valery’s discrimination claim. In April 2021, Wells Fargo filed its opposition to Valery’s motion to disqualify McGuireWoods. In the opposition, McGuireWoods asserted that it no longer represented SAA|EVI or St. Luke LLC.

“McGuireWoods’ abandonment of the St. Luke project has caused significant damage, including delays and expenses occasioned by the sudden lack of access to the firm’s counsel,” Beck added. “Notwithstanding the fact that the St. Luke project was far from complete and the fact that McGuireWoods’ representation of Plaintiffs was unfinished by the terms of the legal retainer agreement, the April 2021 court document was the first notice to the plaintiffs that McGuireWoods no longer considered them to be clients of the firm.”

Valery is seeking a judgment in excess of $75,000 including compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and other costs.

About Beck and Lee Trial Lawyers
Beck & Lee is a law firm focused on trial and litigation practice. We are based in Miami, Florida, but our practice is nationwide in scope. We specialize in lawsuits on behalf of severely injured individuals, investors, consumers, and businesses. The firm's managing partners, Jared Beck and Elizabeth Lee Beck, handle particularly complex litigation. For more information, visit:

Editor's Note: A copy of the lawsuit is available for download upon request.

John D'Angelo
CJones PR