Lanard Toys Limited v. Toys "R" Us, Inc. et al, 3-15-cv-00849 (FLMD December 16, 2016, Order) (Barksdale, MJ)
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
No Disqualification of Plaintiff’s Counsel for Simultaneous Representation of Defendant in Unrelated Litigation
The court denied defendant's motion to disqualify plaintiff's new counsel for simultaneously representing defendant in an unrelated state case because disqualification would impose a substantial hardship on plaintiff. "By undertaking representation of [defendant] in the California case while undertaking representation against [defendant] in this case, [plaintiff’s counsel] plainly violated Rule 4-1.7. But an inadvertent input error -- not a deliberate disregard of the duty of loyalty -- caused that violation. The case has been pending for more than two-and-a-half years -- much longer than the 12- to 18-month goal set by the Court for this type of case -- and disqualification would further delay a merits decision. . . . [Plaintiff] played no part in causing the violation. Insofar as [plaintiff’s counsel] had undertaken 'hundreds of hours of document review' and 'numerous depositions (in Florida and Tennessee),' [plaintiff] would suffer a substantial hardship by having to retain new counsel to repeat or review that work. . . . With no sharing of [defendant's] confidences and able counsel on both sides, the violation will not diminish counsel’s effectiveness. And [counsel's] active representation of [defendant] lasted less than a month, during which it was not [defendant's] primary counsel."