- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Former Republican U.S. Sen. John Danforth has cut his decades-long ties to a St. Louis law firm after a rift over a high-profile case that involved a $77 million jury award against Wells Fargo.

The 78-year-old former Missouri attorney general and ex-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1AKeRUZ ) in a Tuesday interview that he has left the Bryan Cave firm and joined the Dowd Bennett firm.

Danforth said that his departure followed friction between him and the firm related to his participation in a civil case against the firm’s client, Wells Fargo.

He testified in court this year that he urged the plaintiff Barbara Morriss to sue the bank over allegations that it mismanaged family trusts, costing her millions of dollars. He also testified that the bank was legally to blame for the losses in her family’s trusts.

Danforth was a longtime family friend of Morriss and her husband Reuben, who died in 2006. Dowd Bennett represented Morriss in the case.

“Reuben was one of my very closest friends, and we were in each others’ weddings,” he said. “I helped find legal representation for them, and I testified at the trial. The way I saw it, Barbara Morriss didn’t have any protection, therefore that’s what I had to do.”

Danforth said Bryan Cave had requested him to consult with an attorney, who advised him that testifying in the case wouldn’t pose a conflict of interest. But he said as the case neared trial, the firm removed him as a partner last fall and barred him from practicing, while still allowing him to maintain an office there.

Danforth said following the jury’s May 11 verdict, the firm’s chairman called him to tell him he couldn’t keep an office at the firm anymore.

“It clearly created an uncomfortable situation for Bryan Cave,” Danforth said. “After the jury verdict, they felt it was better that I no longer be there.”

Bryan Cave said in an emailed statement to the newspaper that Danforth retired from the firm in 2014.

“His decades of service to the country are greatly appreciated,” the firm said. “We wish him well at his new law firm.”

Danforth said he’s grateful for the firm’s support while he pursued his political career.

“I’ll always have a place in my heart for what Bryan Cave meant to me in the past,” he said.

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