Suit Against Top Strategist For Clinton Is Dropped

Associated Press
Thursday, July 19, 2007

NEW YORK, July 18 -- A lawsuit accusing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's chief strategist of illegally intercepting e-mails has been withdrawn, and the legal battle between him and former associates has been resolved, the parties said Wednesday.

Penn, Schoen & Berland said former vice president Mitchell E. Markel dropped his suit against the firm and its founder, Mark Penn, who is strategist and pollster for Clinton (D-N.Y.), a presidential candidate. A separate suit that the firm filed a week earlier against Markel and Michael J. Berland was also dismissed, and a settlement was reached.

Markel had claimed in his e-mail suit that the firm was illegally monitoring messages sent from his personal BlackBerry after he left and started a rival company. Penn, Schoen & Berland did not dispute that e-mails were intercepted but said it owned the e-mails.

In dropping the suit, Markel agreed that Penn, Schoen & Berland had a right to read the e-mails, and he withdrew his claim that the firm acted improperly, according to a statement attributed to all parties that came from firm spokesman Jason Schechter.

Berland's lawyer and Markel confirmed that the statement was accurate.

Penn, Schoen & Berland is a top polling outfit that has helped elect clients such as former president Bill Clinton and New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Markel's e-mail suit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan came a week after Penn, Schoen & Berland had sued him a week earlier in the same court, accusing Markel and Berland of breach of contract because it said Berland was helping Markel's new company steal some of the firm's clients.

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