Risk Update

Conflicts Allegations — “Investigation” Conflicts Concern, “Nuclear” Matter with Screening Dispute

Law Firm Has Potential Conflict of Interest in Doyle Investigation” —

  • “If you described an investigation where the person works with the investigator and makes decisions about future engagements with the investigator, most people would call it a conflict of interest.”
  • “But that’s exactly what’s happening at Santa Clara City Hall. The same law firm that worked with Santa Clara City Attorney Brian Doyle for two years litigating a 2018 pension dispute, Liebert Cassidy Whitmore and its attorney Morin Jacob, is also investigating Doyle’s professional conduct. It’s no secret that Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is conducting the investigation: The City refers information requests about it to Jacob.”
  • “Liebert Cassidy Whitmore specializes in labor law for local governments. In 2019 a former Humboldt County Counsel sued the firm and other county officials, alleging he was pushed out when he brought to light inflated billings by the firm, according to the Spotlight story.”
  • “The law firm’s 2014 agreement with the City states that Liebert Cassidy Whitmore ‘shall make a good faith effort to identify and shall apprise City of those possible conflicts of interest which could affect Firm’s duties to City or to the City Attorney under the California Rules of Professional Responsibility.'”
  • “‘There’s nothing legally improper, but it certainly doesn’t look good,’ said well-known trial attorney James McManis of McManis Faulkner. “You now have someone with a relationship [with Doyle] investigating him. ‘Santa Clara would have been better served,’ McManis continued, ‘if they had hired an attorney with no connection to the City and who didn’t know any of the people involved,” McManis said. Hiring a firm with years of experience working with Doyle to investigate him “is not a very smart thing.'”

Curtiss-Wright Wants DLA Piper DQ’d In $30M Supply Fight” —

  • “Curtiss-Wright Electro-Mechanical Corp. said in a disqualification motion on Thursday that it was represented in 2013 by a Swedish attorney, now working for DLA Piper, in a substantially similar dispute with Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC over the supply of reactor coolant pumps for nuclear power plants in China. That dispute is ongoing and subject to arbitration in Sweden, Curtiss-Wright said.”
  • “Because the Swedish DLA Piper attorney, Karl-Oskar Dalin, received confidential information about Curtiss-Wright’s defenses against Westinghouse’s claims in the China supply dispute, DLA Piper has a conflict of interest in representing Westinghouse in the Georgia case, Curtiss-Wright said.”
  • “‘Mr. Dalin represented C-W with regard to substantially similar liquidated damage terms in the China purchase order as are in issue in the above-styled litigation,’ Curtiss-Wright said in a brief supporting its motion for disqualification. ‘C-W does not consent to DLA Piper’s representation of Westinghouse in this action or in a related arbitration proceeding in Sweden … with or without some form of screening efforts with respect to Mr. Dalin and C-W’s communications with him regarding such matters.'”
  • “Curtiss-Wright said in its disqualification motion that related circumstances exist between the Vogtle and Summer purchase orders and the China one being arbitrated in Sweden, with respect to the timing of supply of the reactor coolant pumps.”
  • “It said Dalin was retained by Curtiss-Wright in October 2013, when he was at Swedish law firm G. Gronberg Advokatbyra, to represent it in the dispute with Westinghouse over the supply of reactor coolant pumps for the Chinese power plants. Dalin received confidential information from Curtiss-Wright about the strengths and weaknesses of its defenses in that case, it said. Dalin joined DLA Piper in 2016 and is a partner in its Stockholm office, according to the law firm’s website.”
  • “Curtiss-Wright said Georgia’s professional conduct rules prohibit a lawyer who has formerly represented a client in a matter from representing another person in the same or a substantially related matter, in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client. This rule can be worked around if the former client gives informed written consent, which Curtiss-Wright, as the former client of Dalin, does not, it said.”
  • “Curtiss-Wright argued that DLA Piper can’t avoid disqualification through ‘screening’ under Georgia’s professional conduct rules, which allow attorneys who are former judges or former government attorneys to be screened to avoid disqualifying their new law firms or organizations by imputed conflicts. ‘The [rules] do not, however, allow other types of attorneys to avoid imputed conflicts by screening,’ Curtiss-Wright said.”