Friday, February 26, 2016

Reading Int'l v. The Malulani Group (9th Cir. - Feb. 25, 2016)

How often do you see the Ninth Circuit strike a reply brief?  Not often, I'd imagine.  But then again, how often do you see the Ninth Circuit disqualify an attorney on appeal?

Both happen here.

For good reason, though.  There is, in fact, a conflict of interest.  Albeit an imputed one.  When a main guy working on X changes firms, the new firm can be disqualified from working on an appeal that's substantially related to X.  Even if it screens the new partner.  (At least under Hawaii law.)

It's true that screening generally works in Hawaii.  But not if the disqualified lawyer actually acquired confidential information relating to the representation.  Which he did here.

Plus, this is no tiny guy.  He's a major player.  Both in the litigation and in the new firm.

So the party here has to hire a new lawyer.  As well as have that new lawyer sign off on the reply brief prepared by the old firm.

Which I bet will take about 20 second.  (Though the bill will be for 20 hours.)