Risk Update

More DQ News — With Waiver + Ethical Screen IP DQ Deemed a Dud, Witness DQ Drama as Decision “Ripped”

Viasat loses bid to disqualify law firm Gibson Dunn in Western Digital patent case” —

  • “U.S. law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher on Tuesday fended off an attempt by Viasat (VSAT.O) to disqualify it from representing rival satellite communications company Western Digital (WDC.O) in the companies’ patent dispute in Texas federal court.”
  • “Viasat said that Gibson Dunn represents it in other matters and moved to disqualify it from the case on ethical grounds after Western Digital’s lead attorney joined the Los Angeles-founded firm.”
  • “U.S. District Judge Alan Albright rejected the motion, according to a Tuesday docket entry, finding that Gibson Dunn had provided ‘adequate safeguards’ to continue handling Western Digital’s case.”
  • “Viasat said Gibson Dunn received relevant confidential information from the Acacia case, and that both cases relate to the value of a Viasat patent license with Acacia that the firm would ‘attack’ in the Western Digital case.”
  • “Gibson Dunn and San Jose, California-based Western Digital told the court that Viasat had previously agreed to waive any conflict and that it was seeking a ‘strategic advantage.’ The firm also said it had implemented an ‘ethical ‘ to wall off attorneys working on Viasat matters from the case.”

Jones Walker Client Rips ‘Erroneous’ DQ In $1.2B Fraud Case” —

  • “A defendant charged with participating in a $1.2 billion embezzlement scheme targeting Venezuela’s state-owned oil company told a Florida federal court that a magistrate judge’s decision to disqualify Jones Walker LLP from representing him was both ‘contrary to law’ and ‘clearly erroneous.'”
  • “In an objection filed Friday to U.S. District Judge Edwin G. Torres’ decision to disqualify the firm and partner Edward Shohat, defendant and asset manager Luis Fernando Vuteff said a precedential case, United States v. Almeida, shows Shohat owed no duty of loyalty to a witness who signed a joint defense agreement with a former Shohat client. He only owes the witness who plans to testify in Vuteff’s case a duty of confidentiality and there is no conflict of interest, Vuteff said.”
  • “‘As such, disqualification of counsel of choice is too drastic a remedy where independent counsel will be in precisely the same position with respect to any shared confidences as any entirely new lawyer would be. The order literally ignored this language in Almeida: ‘[t]he mere inability to utilize the privileged communications is not itself a manifestation of a conflict of interest, because no lawyer in the world could utilize those communications,” Vuteff said.”
  • “Vuteff, who is from Argentina, is facing one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering alongside Ralph Steinmann of Switzerland. According to prosecutors, the pair created sophisticated financial mechanisms and set up the relationships required to launder more than $200 million.”
  • “Last month, Judge Torres took issue with Shohat’s previous representation of his former client, who is a witness in the case in the government’s investigation and ordered Vuteff to retain new counsel. The judge found that Shohat was privy to confidential information tied up in the joint defense agreement with another witness, Alvaro Ledo Nass, who pled guilty earlier this year to taking $11.5 million in bribes.”
  • “Judge Torres said disqualification is warranted because there is the risk that the facts or strategies discussed with the witnesses ‘have infected the strategies and theories that Mr. Shohat has already formulated for [the] defendant.'”