Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Risk News: Conflicts, Ethical Screens & Disqualification Attempts

Judge Andrews disqualifies attorneys based on their law firm's representation of plaintiff's parent company nearly twenty years earlier. --
  • "Judge Richard G. Anderson recently disqualified the law firm Latham & Watkins as defense counsel in a patent infringement action filed by the subsidiary of a former Latham client. Eon Corp. IP Holdings LLC v. Flo TV Inc., et al., C.A. No. 10-812-RGA (D. Del. Sept. 24, 2012).
  • "Latham represented the plaintiff's parent company between 1988 and 1995, but did not represent it in patent prosecution matters, or with regard to any licensing efforts involving the patent at issue. Id. at 3, 7. Instead, Latham represented the plaintiff's parent company in general corporate and regulatory matters. Id. at 3. The Court noted that some of those corporate and regulatory matters related to the same or similar technology at issue in the patent litigation. Id. at 3."
Former First Arena operator's lawyers may have conflict of interest, U.S. Trustee says --
  • "The U.S. Trustee’s office on Tuesday asked a federal judge not to let the former operator of First Arena hire law firms that have already represented the company in bankruptcy proceedings in Rochester. Assistant U.S. Trustee Kathleen Schmitt filed an objection to Elmira Downtown Arena LLC’s hiring of attorneys from Michigan law firm Schaefer & Weiner PLLC and from Phillips Lytle LLP, which has an office in Rochester."
  • "In her objection, Schmitt said Schaefer & Weiner may have a conflict of interest and that the way the Michigan firm would be paid may be improper."
And ethics maven Bill Freivogel flagged: Alnylam Pharm., Inc. v. Tekmira Pharm. Corp., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136462 (D. Mass. Sept. 24, 2012) --
  • "Firm A represents Plaintiffs in this patent suit.  Firm B represents Defendant.  Lawyer moved from Firm B to Firm A in 2012. While at Firm B Lawyer worked on a Defendant matter and billed 137 hours to the matter in one month.  When Lawyer moved, Firm A set up a screen.  Defendant moved to disqualify Firm A.  In this opinion the court denied the motion.  The court said that while Lawyer did work on a matter involving a license agreement that was involved in this case, the license agreement was not central to the issues in this case, and, thus, the matters were not 'substantially related.'"

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