Ruining a Rival becomes Ruining Themselves

[This post originally appeared on January 15, 2018. With the recent departure of Balch & Bingham’s first-ever Chief Compliance Officer Steve Feaga, and legacy partner Jesse S. Vogtle, Jr. and three other money-making partners, this post has become even more relevant.]

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, we remember the struggles for equality in the decade of the 1960s.

We also recall the Alabama Supreme Court decision from 1961 which Balch & Bingham used to justify their unconscionable interference in Burt Newsome’s livelihood.

In their 2016 amended motion for summary judgment, Balch wrote that the “Alabama Supreme Court has stated ‘[c]ompetition in business, even though carried to the extent of ruining a rival, constitutes justifiable interference in another’s business relations, and is not actionable, so long as it is carried on in furtherance of one’s own interests.'”


In truth, the Alabama Supreme Court was quoting  American Jurisprudence, a legal encyclopedia (see image on left).   Balch probably should have shown a quote of a quote and cited the original source.

The Alabama Supreme Court decision was actual about an electrician who failed to allege a cause of action under the statute to prevent unlawful interference against an electrician contractors association, and the Supreme Court was simply affirming a lower court’s ruling.

The Newsome Conspiracy Case is much different: an alleged criminal conspiracy that wrongly targeted, falsely arrested, and defamed a competitor.

Balch’s partner,  Clark A. Cooper, who allegedly masterminded the conspiracy and trolled Newsome’s cases including allegedly contacting his clients, was fired on March 3 [2017].

In the past 9 months, all of the blunders in the Newsome case have been caused by Balch attorneys who put egos and foolish legal tactics above the firm’s reputation and legacy.

Did Cooper ever think he’d be fired? Did Jeffrey H. Wood ever think his nomination would be blocked? Did Balch ever consider they’d lose half their paying lobbying clients? Did Balch ever think  partners would jump ship? Did Balch ever expect indictments and scrutiny from federal investigators and others?

Ruining a rival has become ruining themselves.

As Dr. King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Steve Feaga could possibly, just possibly be that light.

[Feaga left Balch & Bingham this month, January of 2020.]