Former Azar & Associates lawyer appeals jury’s verdict

Azar Trial 1 12 7 22 scaled

Ivy Ngo listens to testimony in Denver District Court on Dec. 7, 2022. (Justin Wingerter)

A former top attorney at Frank Azar’s law firm has asked an appeals court to consider whether a judge made mistakes that led jurors to side with the popular personal injury lawyer.

Ivy Ngo ran the class-action division at Azar & Associates until early 2020, when she was fired and then sued by the law firm, which accused her of trying to recruit lawyers and clients away from Azar & Associates. Ngo countersued, accusing Frank Azar of defaming her.

After seven days of trial in December, a jury of six Denverites ruled that Ngo breached an employment contract and Azar did not defame her. Ngo was ordered to pay $4,000.

On Feb. 1, Ngo filed an appeal of that verdict with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Ngo takes issue with several pre-trial decisions by Denver District Court Judge David Goldberg, including an order prohibiting Ngo’s attorneys from telling jurors about alleged drug and alcohol use within Azar & Associates and erratic behavior by Frank Azar. Goldberg determined that was irrelevant to the case; Ngo says it’s why she wanted to leave the firm.

Azar Headshot

Frank Azar (Courtesy Franklin D. Azar & Associates)

“Ms. Ngo’s recent appeal is frivolous — just like her baseless counterclaims against me and the Azar firm,” Frank Azar said in a statement.

Ngo believes Goldberg was also wrong to dismiss her argument that the contract she breached was unenforceable. She says the judge erred again when he declined to tell jurors that Colorado law allows departing employees to recruit other employees in some cases.

Ngo’s attorney, Robert Marsh with Jester Gibson & Moore, says that policies at Azar & Associates have harmed employees but “gone largely unchallenged” because the firm’s resources mean “there are few employees with the ability to effectively fight back.”

“The appeal is Ms. Ngo’s effort to correct that situation and continue to shed light on these issues,” Marsh told BusinessDen. “She is hopeful of a favorable ruling by the Court of Appeals that will benefit all Colorado workers subject to these anti-competitive practices.”

The Court of Appeals now must decide whether it will hear the Ngo case. 

Meanwhile, attorneys for her and Azar are engaged in a multimillion-dollar fee dispute.

Though jurors awarded Azar & Associates only the nominal sum of $4,000, Ngo must also cover the legal costs that Azar and his firm have incurred since suing Ngo in February 2020.

Attorneys for Azar and the firm say those total just over $2 million. Ngo’s attorneys say that amount is “clearly unreasonable” and are asking Goldberg to award Azar far less.

Azar and the Azar law firm are represented by attorneys Meghan Martinez and Sarah Nolan with the Martinez Law Group in Denver, along with Tamir Goldstein and Jessica Arett with the Denver office of Sherman & Howard.

Azar Trial 1 12 7 22 scaled

Ivy Ngo listens to testimony in Denver District Court on Dec. 7, 2022. (Justin Wingerter)

A former top attorney at Frank Azar’s law firm has asked an appeals court to consider whether a judge made mistakes that led jurors to side with the popular personal injury lawyer.

Ivy Ngo ran the class-action division at Azar & Associates until early 2020, when she was fired and then sued by the law firm, which accused her of trying to recruit lawyers and clients away from Azar & Associates. Ngo countersued, accusing Frank Azar of defaming her.

After seven days of trial in December, a jury of six Denverites ruled that Ngo breached an employment contract and Azar did not defame her. Ngo was ordered to pay $4,000.

On Feb. 1, Ngo filed an appeal of that verdict with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

Ngo takes issue with several pre-trial decisions by Denver District Court Judge David Goldberg, including an order prohibiting Ngo’s attorneys from telling jurors about alleged drug and alcohol use within Azar & Associates and erratic behavior by Frank Azar. Goldberg determined that was irrelevant to the case; Ngo says it’s why she wanted to leave the firm.

Azar Headshot

Frank Azar (Courtesy Franklin D. Azar & Associates)

“Ms. Ngo’s recent appeal is frivolous — just like her baseless counterclaims against me and the Azar firm,” Frank Azar said in a statement.

Ngo believes Goldberg was also wrong to dismiss her argument that the contract she breached was unenforceable. She says the judge erred again when he declined to tell jurors that Colorado law allows departing employees to recruit other employees in some cases.

Ngo’s attorney, Robert Marsh with Jester Gibson & Moore, says that policies at Azar & Associates have harmed employees but “gone largely unchallenged” because the firm’s resources mean “there are few employees with the ability to effectively fight back.”

“The appeal is Ms. Ngo’s effort to correct that situation and continue to shed light on these issues,” Marsh told BusinessDen. “She is hopeful of a favorable ruling by the Court of Appeals that will benefit all Colorado workers subject to these anti-competitive practices.”

The Court of Appeals now must decide whether it will hear the Ngo case. 

Meanwhile, attorneys for her and Azar are engaged in a multimillion-dollar fee dispute.

Though jurors awarded Azar & Associates only the nominal sum of $4,000, Ngo must also cover the legal costs that Azar and his firm have incurred since suing Ngo in February 2020.

Attorneys for Azar and the firm say those total just over $2 million. Ngo’s attorneys say that amount is “clearly unreasonable” and are asking Goldberg to award Azar far less.

Azar and the Azar law firm are represented by attorneys Meghan Martinez and Sarah Nolan with the Martinez Law Group in Denver, along with Tamir Goldstein and Jessica Arett with the Denver office of Sherman & Howard.

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