Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Combat — Dunkin’ Donut DQ Debate, Jury to Evaluate Trust, Waiver, Conflict Contention

Dunkin’ wants lawyers disqualified from lawsuit over ‘plant-based’ sausage” —

  • “Dunkin’ Brands Inc told a Florida federal court Wednesday that law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders should not be allowed to represent a Philadelphia company suing it for trademark infringement because the firm represents another Dunkin’ unit in a different case.”
  • “Troutman’s defense of Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC in a New Jersey sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit should disqualify it from representing Vegadelphia Foods in its lawsuit over Dunkin’ and Beyond Meat’s “Great Taste, Plant-Based” slogan, the company said.”
  • “Vegadelphia, which sells plant-based beef and chicken, said in its April lawsuit that Dunkin’ and Beyond Meat’s slogan for their Beyond Sausage Sandwich is likely to cause confusion with its trademarked slogan, ‘Where Great Taste is Plant-Based.'”
  • “Dunkin’ said in its Wednesday filing that ‘for all practical purposes, Troutman has sued a current client.’ It said Troutman was hired to represent Dunkin’ Franchising in January.”
  • “The filing said Dunkin’ Franchising is a shell company used solely to contract with Dunkin’ franchise owners. Any ruling against Dunkin’ Brands would also hurt Troutman’s client in the New Jersey case, the company said.”

Nelson Mullins Atty’s Work Was ‘Conflict Ridden,’ Jury Hears” —

  • “A legal ethics expert testified Thursday that a Nelson Mullins lawyer’s work for a wealthy Florida family was rife with conflicts of interest, and a waiver letter he asked them to sign was an ethical minefield.”
  • “Charles Wolfram, a law professor emeritus at Cornell University, took the stand in a lawsuit claiming that Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP lawyer Carl Rosen mishandled trust work for Dr. Steven Scott and his wife, former nurse Rebecca Scott, allowing their eldest son, Rob Scott, to reap $46 million from a trust against their wishes.”
  • “Wolfram told the jury that Rosen’s work for eight members of the same family — there were four other children besides Rob, plus a mother-in-law — was a ‘classical conflict of interest.'”
  • “At a May 2012 meeting in his office, Rosen presented the family members with a consent waiver, which they all signed. In Wolfram’s view, however, the letter was riddled with ethical problems.”
  • “For example, it was an attempt to waive both past and future issues, which Wolfram called ‘an impossible request.’ Rosen has testified it was only for past issues.”
  • “Elsewhere, the letter explains that for each signatory, Rosen will not disclose confidential information from that person to other family members, even if the information is adverse to another family member.”
  • “Wolfram described this as ‘a very controversial method of representing clients that some members of the estate planning community embrace, but many think [is] very, very difficult to maintain.'”
  • “‘You could very easily get into a conflict situation and not be able to deal with it,’ he said.”