Risk Update

Conflicts Contested — DOJ DQ Dispute, DLA Power Plant Defense

Judge Denies DOJ Bid to Disqualify Ex-Trump Official, Warns Against ‘Furthering Partisan Causes‘” —

  • “A federal judge in Texas on Wednesday rejected the U.S. Department of Justice’s attempt to disqualify a lawyer who served in the department during the Trump administration from an immigration case, suggesting that the DOJ’s motion was motivated more by politics than legal concerns.”
  • “U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman of the Northern District of Texas said the government’s effort to boot the lawyer, Gene Hamilton, from the case was ‘a mere shot across the bow meant to blur the real legal issue before the court.'”
  • “A DOJ lawyer, Brian Stoltz, argued that ethics rules meant to prevent ‘side switching’ barred Hamilton from representing Texas in the lawsuit, which focuses on a federal immigration rule enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government said Hamilton obtained confidential information about the government’s legal arguments while working for the Justice Department and was substantially involved in cases similar to Texas’ lawsuit that amounted to the same underlying ‘matter.'”
  • “Hamilton was a counselor to Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr during the Trump administration. He is representing Texas as part of America First Legal, an organization founded by former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller to bring legal challenges to Biden administration policies.”
  • “Pittman found that Hamilton did not have confidential information relevant to the case because much of the information in Texas’ complaint is publicly available. Because Hamilton left the government during the presidential transition, he was not working for the DOJ when the actual regulation challenged in the lawsuit was implemented, the judge found.”

DLA Piper Defends Representation In $30M Power Plant Row” —

  • “DLA Piper US LLP urged the state court to reject the disqualification bid by Curtiss-Wright Electro-Mechanical Corp., which claims the global law firm has a conflict of interest in representing Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC.”
  • “Westinghouse sued Curtiss-Wright in Georgia in July over the allegedly late supply of reactor coolant pumps for electric and nuclear power plants in the Southeast, claiming about $30.7 million in liquidated damages. Curtiss-Wright sought the firm’s disqualification on the basis that it was represented in 2013 and 2014 by a Swedish attorney, now working for DLA Piper, in a substantially similar dispute with Westinghouse over the supply of reactor coolant pumps for nuclear power plants in China.”
  • “But counsel for DLA Piper, a nonparty in the Georgia case, said Curtiss-Wright failed to meet its burden showing the representation of Curtiss-Wright more than seven years ago by Swedish DLA Piper attorney Karl-Oskar Dalin, when he was with another law firm, involved substantial similarities with the Georgia litigation.”
  • “‘We’ve heard a lot of generalities about superficial similarities,’ Nancy Hart of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, an attorney for DLA Piper, said during a motion hearing. ‘But once you get past that surface, the similarities really end.'”
  • “The Chinese dispute, and Dalin’s brief involvement in it, happened before Curtiss-Wright was even due to start supplying reactor coolant pumps to Westinghouse for construction projects at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Waynesboro, Georgia, and the Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Power Station in Jenkinsville, South Carolina, Hart said. Dalin joined DLA Piper in Sweden in 2016 and is a partner in its Stockholm office.”
  • “But counsel for Curtiss-Wright said Dalin was sent a confidential memo in late 2013 from one of its lawyers at a different firm, assessing the claims and liquidated damages for the Chinese dispute with Westinghouse. That memo included Curtiss-Wright’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to the claims, which are substantially similar to those in the Georgia litigation, said Craig K. Pendergrast of Taylor English Duma LLP, an attorney for Curtiss-Wright.”
  • “‘The reactor coolant pump design specifications are common to all of these projects. That’s a common issue for all of them as to the impact of the design changes and the subsequent production and delivery of the RCPs,’ Pendergrast said. ‘The formula for the liquidated damages is common across the board.'”