The most stable relationship in my life is officially over. After a three-year legal battle, which felt something like the equivalent of watching my parents get divorced, lawyers Ross Cellino Jr. and Stephen Barnes of Cellino & Barnes have parted ways after over 20 years, the New York Post reports. Cellino and Barnes, who ran a personal injuries law firm, were a staple in New York regional commercials with a simple yet effective jingle that said just their names, titles, and phone number: “Cellino & Barnes, injury attorneys, 800-888-8888.” It was the jingle of my youth as I sat on my grandmother’s linoleum floor waiting for the next episode of Batman Beyond to start. Cellino and Barnes have truly been the only constants in my life, impervious to death or separation.
But in 2017, Cellino ruined everything by filing a lawsuit against Barnes requesting the dissolution of the firm that had grown from a small shop in Buffalo, New York, to a bicoastal shop with $2 billion in settlement wins, according to the New York Post. Barnes wanted the west coast half of the business, Cellino wanted the east—but both men wanted the phone number and the coveted jingle, resulting in a war that ripped apart the landscape of regional commercials. Every time an old Cellino & Barnes commercial aired on TV, I wept, knowing it was all a lie: Dads were fighting.
In January, Barnes consented to the dissolution to the company and on Monday, the two parties came to a confidential settlement on the future of the jingle. It’s unknown who got what in the end, but both Cellino and Barnes claimed in January that they were each ready to open separate law firms. This is a wound that only time and a new jingle will heal.