Sometimes a divorce is amicable. The divorce of Cellino and Barnes, however, is not one of those times.
Back in May I wrote how this large personal injury firm — based in upstate New York but expanded not only to downstate but out to California as well — had collapsed. Some told me privately that I was jumping the gun, and that collapse was too strong a word for this fight.
I speculated back then that the two main reasons for a firm of this size to collapse were money and ego. It appeared to me at the time, based on press accounts and court filings, that Stephen Barnes had already crossed the Rubicon and that there was no going back in his relationship with Ross Cellino, Jr.
And now we see this from the Buffalo News:
Money continues to roll in by the millions of dollars — but there’s no harmony between battling law partners Ross M. Cellino Jr. and Stephen E. Barnes.
On Tuesday, Barnes accused Cellino of trying to burn the Cellino & Barnes law firm “to the ground,” regardless of how many employees are hurt.
But if you think burn to the ground is harsh language, it doesn’t compare to this Barnes comment that comes in legal filings over whether a receiver should be appointed to resolve deadlocked issues regarding the dissolution of the firm. As per Barnes , Cellino said:
“I don’t give a f–k, I will burn the place to the ground and start over with one lawyer. I have the resources. F–k it, f–k Steve and f–k Daryl. Let all these f–king lawyers spend the next 20 years with Steve”
On the flip side of this nastiness is Cellino’s allegation in a November 29th affidavit that Barnes has already set up his own competing law firm and has used Cellino and Barnes assets/personnel to assist in doing so.
The TV and radio ads continue, by the way with an astounding $4.6 million spent from in 2017 through the end of November. In that same Cellino affidavit, he says that it makes no financial sense to continue spending money on a brand that will soon cease to exist. And they spend about $65,000 per month on pay-per-click advertising.
That’s a lot of money, in case you were thinking of following in their footsteps. But remember that money doesn’t buy happiness.
An old proverb states that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. I’m not sure why that’s limited to women, however, as the emotions related to betrayal, ego, rejection, insult and revenge are all very powerful and cause people to do crazy things. That happens in relationships both personal and business.
This fight, with over 200 documents filed already, won’t be ending soon (or happily).