Risk Update

Risk News — Strategic Conflict Causes Sanctions, Scout Conflict Settled

Louisiana Personal Injury Firm Sanctions Upheld in Conflict Row” —

  • “A personal injury law firm in Louisiana convinced a state appeals court to affirm $7,500 in sanctions and attorneys’ fees in connection with a case in which the firm was accused of having a conflict of interest.”
  • “Rental equipment company Ahern Rentals Inc. sued former employees including Scott Helms and Chadd Turnage alleging theft of confidential information after they were hired by Ahern’s competitor, EquipmentShare.com Inc. Helms and Turnage were rehired at Ahern after losing their jobs at EquipmentShare, and Ahern moved to disqualify their former counsel at Veron Bice Palermo & Wilson LLC from representing the remaining individuals.”
  • “Veron opposed disqualification and sought sanctions, asking why Ahern hadn’t dismissed its employees from the action and raising concerns about confidential strategies in litigation. The trial court rejected the bid for disqualification, and granted the sanctions request in the amount of $7,500 in costs and fees.”
  • “The Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit, affirmed that ruling Wednesday. The appeals court held that the evidence was sufficient to support the trial court’s ruling that Ahern was delaying the dismissal of Helms and Turnage as defendants in an attempt to gain information about EquipmentShare’s strategy.”
  • “‘There is evidence that the motion at issue in this case was filed to cause unnecessary delay and as an abuse of process,’ Judge Elizabeth A. Pickett wrote in the opinion.”

Sidley Austin Had No Conflict in Boy Scouts’ Bankruptcy Work” —

  • “Sidley Austin LLP had no conflict of interest in representing the Boy Scouts of America in its bankruptcy case despite the law firm’s connection to one of BSA’s insurers, the Third Circuit ruled.”
  • “Century Indemnity Co., a Chubb subsidiary, sought to have Sidley Austin disqualified from BSA’s bankruptcy case, arguing that the law firm had previously provided legal counsel to Century in certain reinsurance disputes.”
  • “The district court had upheld a similar conclusion by the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, triggering Century’s appeal to the Third Circuit.”
  • “The bankruptcy court ‘looked carefully at the specific facts before it and reasonably approved BSA’s retention of Sidley,’ the Third Circuit said. ‘This is nowhere close to an abuse of discretion.'”
  • “The Boy Scouts, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2020 following former scouts’ claims of sexual abuse, has negotiated with Chubb and other insurers for victim payouts.”
  • “Sidley is no longer actively involved in the bankruptcy case because the attorneys who represented the Boy Scouts moved to a new firm in September 2020.”
  • “The law firm separated itself from the BSA’s insurance coverage issues and didn’t receive any relevant confidential or privileged information, according to the appeals court’s opinion. Sidley’s work for Century did not affect its ability to work for the Boy Scouts, the court said.”