Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Disqualification Avoided: Judge Rules in Class Action Conflicts Allegation

We noted this story earlier this year: "Latham & Watkins faces conflict charge in antitrust class action." Now comes an update: "Latham to Continue in Antitrust Case" --
  • "Latham represents Union Pacific Railroad Co., one of four U.S. freight rail companies accused of conspiring to raise customer rates through fuel surcharges. After Latham entered the multidistrict litigation last fall, several now-ex-clients who were unnamed class members—petroleum byproducts distributor Oxbow Carbon LLC and its subsidiaries—moved to disqualify the firm, arguing it suffered a conflict of interest."
  • "U.S. District Senior Judge Paul Friedman found that Latham's participation didn't create conflicts requiring the firm to step aside. As unnamed members of the potential class, the Oxbow companies weren't considered "parties" for the purposes of conflicts checks..."
  • "Friedman said there could be circumstances under which the relationship between an unnamed class member and a law firm was "so substantial that it raises questions about the firm’s ability to zealously represent the defendant, or where there is a risk that the class member’s confidential information could be used by the firm in preparing the defendant’s legal strategy," he said. 'But such circumstances are not present here.'"

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