Risk Update

DQ News — Appellate Court Calls No Conflict, FDIC Fights Attorney Disqualification Tied to “First of Its Kind” Confidential Document Access

Appellate Court Sides With Law Firm in Dismissing Objections to It Representing Estate, Plaintiff Claims ‘Unethical Advantage’” —

  • “In July 2019, Haydusky objected to the Probate Court’s retention of the law firm Dey Smith Steele by attorney Daisy P. Garces on behalf of her mother’s estate, alleging a conflict of interest existed as she had consulted with the firm seeking its representation regarding the matter.”
  • “Haydusky claimed that she had ‘multiple telephone conferences and in person meetings with this firm’ and that she shared ‘private, confidential facts’ that could potentially create a conflict and an ‘unethical advantage in this case,’ the opinion said.”
  • “The court issued an order overruling the objection, finding no conflict on interest. Haydusky then filed an application for reconsideration of the Probate Court’s order, arguing that she had been denied her right to a fair trial—her legal right to admit evidence, which she claims would have proved her case. She further claimed that the defendants had ‘a completely unfair advantage in the case,’ and that the order represented a prejudicial decision by the judge, showing ‘a clear and obvious bias on the part of the judge,’ the opinion cited.”

FDIC Wants Atty Disqualification Paused For 5th Circ. Appeal” —

  • “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. asked a Louisiana federal judge to wait for a Fifth Circuit decision before disqualifying its attorneys from a $125 million bank fraud case against the accounting firm EY, saying it believes its chances of having the decision overturned are strong.”
  • “In its Friday motion, the FDIC urged U.S. District Judge Eldon E. Fallon to pause the suit while the Fifth Circuit reviews the judge’s June ruling barring the corporation’s attorneys from representing it due to the potential bias the judge said stems from its improper access to confidential information.”
  • “Judge Fallon determined that the ArentFox Schiff LLP attorneys representing the FDIC and in-house counsel viewed thousands of pages of statutorily protected and privileged materials from the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board that they were not supposed to view and that the ArentFox Schiff attorneys had possession of those documents for several years, which could result in prejudice against EY.”
  • “‘Irreparable harm will occur here absent a stay because the FDIC-R cannot replace the knowledge and expertise of counsel who have been investigating and litigating this matter for more than five years’ the FDIC said in its motion. ‘Disqualifying the FDIC-R’s counsel will irreparably harm its ability to litigate this matter effectively and efficiently because current counsel’s knowledge and experience cannot be fully replaced. And hiring new counsel will result in substantial burden and undue expense for the FDIC-R.'”
  • “The FDIC said it believes it has a good chance of succeeding in having the ruling overturned, noting that Judge Fallon acknowledged its attorneys hadn’t committed any ethical violations and that the only issue was viewing documents that they were accidentally given access to.”
  • “Additionally, the FDIC said the suit should be paused because there’s a serious legal question being posed, labeling the specific issue as a ‘first of its kind’ matter that deals with a disqualification imposed because of the possibility of prejudice, versus the usual concrete actions that lead to counsel disqualification in other cases.”
  • “‘To the FDIC-R’s knowledge, no court has ever ordered disqualification of counsel for good faith receipt of an intentional production from a governmental body, let alone without finding a rule violation and actual prejudice,’ the FDIC said Friday. At a minimum, the disqualification order raises significant legal issues regarding the proper grounds for attorney disqualification in the Fifth Circuit and warrants a stay to permit meaningful appellate review.”