Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Allegations — A Bar Battle, A Cruise Clash

Law Firm Shouldn’t Have Represented Local Bars while ABC Attorney was on their Payroll, Giattino and Fisher Say” —

  • “Hoboken Councilwomen Jen Giattino and Tiffanie Fisher have asked for an investigation into the restructuring of two Hoboken bar liquor licenses after learning that the attorney representing the city’s ABC Board [Alcoholic Beverage Control] is employed by the firm representing those bars.””Giattino and Fisher said they learned that the law firm Schenk, Price, Smith & King was handling the ownership restructuring of two local Hoboken bars, McSwiggan’s and Green Rock, while John Allen, a city employee and the attorney for the local Alcohol and Beverage Commission Board, was also employed as one of Firm’s attorneys.”
  • “‘Assistant Corporation Counsel John Allen resigned as Counsel for the Alcohol Beverage Control Board on October 13,’ City Spokesperson Marilyn Baer told TAPinto Hoboken when asked about the possible conflict. ‘He chose to resign to avoid future potential conflicts. As previously disclosed, Mr. Allen is affiliated with Schenck, Price, Smith & King LLP.'”
  • “Hoboken does allow attorneys of its boards to work for or own private legal firms, according to local ordinance, as long as the attorney gives priority to city obligations over private practices so that there will be no conflicts of interest.”
  • “Baer continued to explain that Allen resigned from the position with the city ‘instead of simply recusing himself on individual matters pertaining to the license holder,’ and therefore ‘went the extra mile to resolve the matter.'”
  • “Giattino, who filed a request for information on Oct.15 and was first told she would not receive a response until Nov. 10, after the upcoming election where the mayor and three City Council seats are being contested, still doesn’t buy it. ‘We learned that Schenk Price was representing at least one liquor license holder back in September. So, getting these responses from Hoboken’s Corporation Counsel means that Hoboken either has no controls in place to manage conflicts like this or the Bhalla administration condones this behavior, or both,’ she said.”

Cruise Co. Wants Atty DQ’d From Personal Injury Suit” —

  • “Attorney Michael Dunlavy doesn’t work at Gerson & Schwartz anymore, but he could have potentially handed over confidential information he gained while working at Foreman Friedman PA, which is representing the cruise line in a trip-and-fall lawsuit filed by Emily Chen, according to a motion to disqualify filed Thursday.”
  • “‘Dunlavy acquired confidential, nondiscoverable information about Norwegian in this matter and it would be prejudicial to Norwegian since it would give plaintiff an unfair advantage,’ the cruise line said. ‘The entire firm of Gerson & Schwartz, Dunlavy’s former employer, should be prohibited from representing plaintiff in this matter since the conflict of interest between Dunlavy and Norwegian should be imputed to his entire new firm.'”
  • “However, the motion is misguided, Gerson & Schwartz founder and senior partner Philip M. Gerson told Law360 Friday. ‘I’m surprised they didn’t pick up the phone to call me. Had they done, so I would have told them that Michael Dunlavy worked for our firm for a total of nine days,’ Gerson said. ‘He never touched or saw the Chen file, and we have no idea what he did at Foreman Friedman.'”
  • “Norwegian said that for most of the eight months Dunlavy was employed at Foreman Friedman, he ‘was the associate attorney handling the matter day to day’ for Norwegian, the motion said. He resigned from the firm on May 17. Foreman and Friedman said it just ‘recently learned’ about where Dunlavy went after that.”
  • “The cruise line’s argument is that the Rules Regulating the Florida Bar, which encompass district courts for the Southern District of Florida, requires that Dunlavy be disqualified from representing Chen. Norwegian goes on to cite the decision in Armor Screen Corp. v. Storm Catcher Inc., which determined that when an attorney is disqualified so also is the entire law firm, the company said.”