Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Howrey found to violate RPC 1.7

Henry Gottlieb reports in the New Jersey Law Journal on the issue of Howrey violating RPC 1.7 in two cases in the stent wars, wherein Boston Scientific is a plaintiff in the District of Delaware and a defendant in the District of New Jersey.

In D NJ, the ruling was that Howrey's Washington office can't continue defending Boston Scientific Corp. in a case against Wyeth.

In D Del, the ruling was that Howrey could remain Boston Scientific's counsel against Wyeth in the Delaware case, Boston Scientific Corp. v. Johnson & Johnson Inc. and Cordis Corp.

In each case, the pertinent RPC 1.7 was found violated, but D Del found mitigating circumstances. Judge Robinson, in Delaware, noted that Wyeth was partly to blame for Howrey's conflict. The company has a practice of using a multitude of corporate names and billing addresses for work by its subsidiaries, creating confusion for Howrey as to who its client really was in a related European case.

IPBiz notes that law firms have to identify their client. Judge Robinson observed:

"In handling these matters, it has not always been clear which Wyeth entity Howrey has been representing."

The New Jersey magistrate (Bongiovanni ) did not get into these issues: "New Jersey simply does not permit concurrent representation when the interests of two current clients are adverse," quoting Celgene Corp., v. KV Pharmaceutical Corp., 2008 WL 2937415 (D.N.J. 2008). [In passing, LBE once observed an OAL ruling that was not so strict as to conflicts]

The Gottlieb article had another quote: Wyeth's local counsel in New Jersey, Donald Robinson of Robinson, Wettre & Miller in Newark, says, "It's refreshing that the New Jersey courts still apply the Rules of Professional Conduct."


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