Ex-Skadden Lawyer Wins $29 Million in Domestic Abuse Case

, The Am Law Daily

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John Michael Farren arraignment in state Superior Court in Norwalk, Conn. Jan 7, 2010
John Michael Farren arraignment in state Superior Court in Norwalk, Conn. Jan 7, 2010

A Connecticut jury awarded $28.6 million in damages this week to former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom counsel Mary Margaret Farren in connection with a civil suit she filed against her ex-husband, former White House deputy counsel John Farren, in the wake of a 2010 domestic violence incident that left her in critical condition and with long-term injuries.

Over the course of five-and-a-half days of trial testimony, the jury heard excruciating details about the violent incident on the evening of Jan. 6, 2010, during which John Farren allegedly attacked Mary Farren at their Connecticut home, leaving her with a broken nose and jaw, brain injuries and lacerations, ABC News reports.

Farren testified in court that as her husband bludgeoned her with a heavy flashlight, strangled her and tore at her hair, she managed to break away, grab the couple’s two young daughters, and drive to a neighbor’s house, where she collapsed just after stepping inside the door, according to ABC.

Mary Farren, 47, testified that she had told John Farren, 61, she wanted a divorce two days prior to the incident. John Farren—who faces criminal charges related to the incident that include attempted murder and strangulation and is scheduled to go on trial next spring—represented himself in the civil case but did not appear in court for the trial. A top lawyer in the George W. Bush administration who earlier in his career served as Xerox's general counsel and worked at law firm Wiggin and Dana, John Farren had trouble finding work after leaving his White House post and has asserted that he is not guilty of the criminal charges by reason of insanity.

As The Am Law Daily has previously reported, the physical and psychological trauma caused by the attack have made it difficult for Mary Farren to continuing working as a lawyer. ABC News reports that she currently lives with her two daughters in an undisclosed state and in constant fear for her life. (In April 2010, months after bringing her civil lawsuit, expert testimony in the case pegged her lifetime earnings at Skadden at $9 million.)

Mary Farren’s attorney, Silver Golub & Teitell partner Paul Slager, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday.

A 1994 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law, Mary Farren joined Skadden’s energy regulation and litigation group in 1997. At the time of the attack, she was counsel in Skadden’s D.C. office, where she represented clients such as investor-owned electric utilities in matters before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a cached version of her former Skadden bio shows. Top clients included Entergy Corp., Exelon Corp. and Edison Electric Institute. She officially left Skadden in July 2012.

Once admitted to practice in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and D.C., state bar directories show she is still a licensed attorney in New York and Connecticut, and that her registration in the other two states has lapsed. John Farren is still licensed to practice law in D.C.

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