Activist investor Joseph Stilwell has filed a lawsuit against the New York proxy firm he hired for a contested board election at First Financial Northwest (FFNW).

Stilwell claimed in a lawsuit filed in March in New York State Supreme Court that his investment firm hired D.F. King & Co. of New York to solicit ballots on its behalf in a May 2012 board election at First Financial, an $887 million-asset thrift in Renton, Wash. The lawsuit claims that one of D.F. King's employees working the election failed to turn in a master ballot in time, causing Stilwell’s candidate to forfeit the election.

The lawsuit, which alleges that a breach of contract took place, is seeking about $12 million.

Stilwell had been looking to place his nominee, Spencer Schneider, on First Financial’s board in a move that he also hoped would oust Victor Karpiak as the company’s chairman.

D.F. King denied the allegations in court filings. Calls to the offices of D.F. King and Stilwell were not returned. Joel Siegel, Stilwell’s lawyer, and David Levy, the lawyer representing D.F. King, also did not return calls seeking comment.

After last year’s proxy contest, Stilwell filed a lawsuit against First Financial in hopes of invalidating the election results. The parties reached a settlement in December, when Karpiak agreed to resign from the board. The settlement also called for First Financial to reimburse a portion of Stilwell’s proxy solicitation expenses.

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