Risk Update

Disqualification Attempts — Sides Shifting Allegations Spur Struggles

VW Declined to Hire Louis Freeh for $15M. Now He’s on the Other Side—and VW Is Crying Foul” —

  • “Four years ago, former FBI Director Louis Freeh was on the verge of being hired by Volkswagen to run its diesel emissions litigation—work for which he wanted a guaranteed $15 million over three years, plus 10% of the “savings the company and its subsidiaries yield and/or the costs saved by settlements,” according to a draft engagement letter. In the end, he didn’t get the job—nor did VW bite a year later when he suggested that the automaker ‘keep me in mind for any future role, such as a monitor.'”
  • “Now, Freeh—founder and chairman of consulting firm Freeh Group International Solutions and senior managing partner of affiliated law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan—has turned up on the other side. He’s serving as an expert witness for plaintiffs who opted out of VW’s overarching civil settlement in 2016 and are suing the company instead.”
  • “In a motion to disqualify filed on Monday in San Francisco federal court, the VW team led by Robert Giuffra Jr., Sharon Nelles, William Monahan, John McCarthy and Michael Steinberg argue that ‘Mr. Freeh’s conflict of interest and receipt of confidential information disqualify him from serving as an expert adverse to defendants.'”
  • “Freeh ‘engaged in extensive privileged and confidential discussions with Volkswagen’s senior-most executives and counsel about the same diesel matters underlying this lawsuit, including discussing key documents and legal strategy,’ they continued. ‘Mr. Freeh’s contemplated mandate would have included a role overseeing both this case and the exact same criminal matter that is the subject of his expert opinion.'”
  • “‘The circumstances here go far beyond what other courts have found to be disqualifying,’ the Sullivan & Cromwell team wrote. ‘Here, the topics that Volkswagen discussed with Mr. Freeh are not only privileged, but squarely implicated by his proposed testimony. For instance, one of Mr. Freeh’s main conclusions—that there was executive-level wrongdoing that Volkswagen concealed from the court and the prosecutors—is primarily based on a document that Volkswagen’s counsel shared with Mr. Freeh to seek his legal advice on its implications.'”

Miles & Stockbridge Hit With DQ Bid In Army Contract Case” —

  • “Advanced Training Group Worldwide Inc., which has accused ProActive Technologies Inc. of illegally nixing it from a joint venture the pair formed to bid on the Special Operations Forces training contract deal, said Friday that Miles & Stockbridge should be disqualified from the case because the firm previously represented the joint venture.”
  • “According to ATG, Miles & Stockbridge breached its obligations to the Ohio company by prioritizing ProActive’s interests over ATG’s, even though both parties owned shares of the joint venture. The firm also failed to obtain a conflicts waiver from ATG, the company said.”
  • “ATG argued the case is related to the firm representing the joint venture because the company claims ProActive breached the deal that created the joint venture. In addition, ATG said that in representing the joint venture, the firm knew about confidential information from both companies that could be exploited in the case. Some of the documents the firm drafted are currently main pieces of evidence, ATG noted.”