UPDATE: In a statement provided to 10 On Your Side on Tuesday, Wayne Lynch appears to have ended his relationship with the lead attorneys in the suit.
“Justin Fairfax and Tom Martin no longer have any connection or relationship with me, or the estate,” it reads.
Language in the statement is similar to a letter sent to WAVY on Monday by his family attorney, Jeffery Reichert. That letter alluded to Reichert being the only remaining attorney on the case.
Lauren Burke, spokesperson for Justin Fairfax, pushed back, telling us Fairfax and Martin are still serving as attorneys of record.
“Justin E. Fairfax and Thomas B. Martin have been honored to secure a $3M settlement in the death of Wayne Lynch’s son Donovon Lynch,” she said. “This historic settlement for the Lynch family will soon be completely settled in Virginia federal court.”
She also said that before Fairfax and Martin took over, “not a single deposition had been taken. In 64 days, the case was settled.”
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The settlement in a lawsuit against the City of Virginia Beach over the police shooting death of Donovon Lynch has hit a snag.
Lynch was killed by a VBPD officer in March 2021. The officer wasn’t found guilty of wrongdoing, but Lynch’s father sued the city on behalf of his estate and was awarded $3 million earlier this month.
Now, in a bizarre move, attorneys for both the city and the Lynch family are asking a judge to enforce the settlement after Wayne Lynch declined to sign onto it at the direction of another lawyer representing him, Jeffrey Reichert.
Wayne Lynch had previously celebrated the ruling, appearing outside the federal courthouse in Norfolk at a press conference on Dec. 14 with lead attorney Justin Fairfax.
“I can smile today, with confidence and peace of mind and a broken heart,” he told the gathered cameras. “Donovon is vindicated.”
He went on to praise both Fairfax and Reichert for their work on the lawsuit.
It’s unclear what Reichert’s objections to the terms are. He declined to elaborate in an email response to questions from 10 On Your Side’s investigative team.
For their part, a spokesperson for Fairfax told us they expected Wayne Lynch to sign the document soon.
“This is confusing. This should’ve been signed on Friday,” she said, referring to the deadline for the settlement agreement to be filed in court.
Reichert’s role in the case has been difficult to determine at times. In its report on the police shooting of Donovon Lynch, the special grand jury recommended launching an investigation into him for possible perjury.
He said he’s served as attorney of fact for the Lynch family and Donovon Lynch estate since Donovon Lynch was killed. Because he’s not licensed to practice law in Virginia (he’s licensed in Maryland), he described his role as supervisory over the other attorneys.
“I was responsible for investigating and developing the lawsuit- including retaining and overseeing all litigation attorneys (attorneys of record, or trial lawyers- like Mr. Fairfax),” he wrote in an email.
He also claims to have taken part in recent negotiations, “representing all of the estate’s legal interests in the lawsuit and possible settlement.”
The spokesperson for Fairfax told us Reichert wasn’t involved in the mediation process with the city at all. Instead, it was Fairfax and Thomas B. Martin who worked to develop the deal, and who serve as attorneys of record.
“This case was not doing anything for about a year until October 2022,” she said. That was when Fairfax announced he was joining the lawsuit to serve as lead attorney.
Following that move, a judge in the case called a hearing on Oct. 31 to clarify exactly who was representing Wayne Lynch. Court documents show that Reichert was not present for that hearing.
Hinting at a split in the Lynch legal team, Reichert is referred to as an “interested nonparty” in the joint motion requesting a judge to enforce the ruling and disperse the funds filed on Dec. 23.
On Dec. 27, Wayne Lynch issued a statement referring to Reichert as his “attorney of fact and Legal Representative of the Estate since Day 1.”
“He has been by my family’s side- both personally and professionally- throughout the entirety of this tragedy,” said Lynch. “He is the only party involved that has only looked out for the Estate’s best interests and not their own.”
Read the full statement from Wayne Lynch below.
As the father of Donovon Wayne Lynch, and the Administrator of the Estate of Donovon Wayne Lynch (“Estate”), I feel I must clarify the misrepresentations about the status of the potential Settlement and Release between the parties in Estate’s lawsuit against the City of VB and Solomon Simmons for the death of my son (“Lawsuit”) and who my attorneys are.
The Settlement and Release in the Lawsuit has not been finalized. I regret that it was publicly disclosed before all non-monetary terms were finalized. I was following the direction of Justin Fairfax at the time. Jeff Reichert was not even made aware any statements were to be made, other than the joint statement we released with the Defendants, until after we signed the Settlement and Release Agreement. I was not informed that Solomon Simmons was returning to full duty until after the press conference on December 14, 2022.
Justin Fairfax and Tom Martin no longer have any connection or relationship with me, or the Estate. The Estate terminated their short-lived representation of the Estate in the Lawsuit for the second time on Monday, December 26, 2022. The first time was on October 27, 2022. We decided to re-engage them after appearing in Federal Court and hearing the status of Discovery heading into potential mediation. A few of the many reasons for the terminations was their failure to communicate with the Estate, misrepresentations to the Estate and to the other parties, and the overall mistrust developed over countless examples of them not looking out for mine and the Estate’s best interests. The Estate has already retained new legal representation to substitute for Mr. Fairfax as attorney of record for the Lawsuit, and we hope to continue towards settling this Lawsuit with a positive outcome for ALL parties.
Jeff Reichert has been my attorney of fact and Legal Representative of the Estate since Day 1. He advised and assisted me in retaining (and terminating) every trial lawyer (or attorney of record) on behalf of the Estate for the Lawsuit. He has been by my family’s side- both personally and professionally- throughout the entirety of this tragedy. He is the only party involved that has only looked out for the Estate’s best interests and not their own. He attended the mediation as the Legal Representative of the Estate and advised me throughout the entire mediation with the City of Virginia Beach- speaking to Mr. Fairfax and Mr. Martin for hours. I have a constitutional right to choose my own attorney. I chose Jeff Reichert and he is the only attorney I have not had to fire for not looking out for the Estate’s best interests.Wayne Bernard Lynch
Father of Donovon Wayne Lynch/Administrator of the Estate of Donovon Wayne Lynch
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