Articles Posted in Legal Ethics

by
The trust appealed the district court's grant of the law firm's request for a percentage fee awarded from the common settlement fund. The fee award was compensation for the law firm's representation of a class of plaintiffs that settled securities law claims against BioScript. The trust was a member of the class and objected to the fee award. The Second Circuit affirmed and held that, regardless of whether the claims settled here were initiated under fee‐shifting statutes, the common‐fund doctrine properly controls the district court's allocation of attorneys' fees from a common settlement fund. The court explained that class plaintiffs have received the benefit of counsel's representation and assumption of the risk that the lawsuit will not render a recovery, and thus the class may be fairly charged for counsel's assumption of contingent risk. Therefore, the court held that the district court was entitled to exercise its discretion in awarding either a percentage‐of‐the‐fund fee or a lodestar fee to class counsel. View "Fresno County Employees' Retirement Assoc. v. Isaacson/Weaver Family Trust" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment granting attorneys' fees and costs to defendants under section 505 of the Copyright Act and section 35(a) of the Lanham Act. These provisions authorized the district court to award fees to the prevailing party in a lawsuit. The court held that defendants met the definition of "prevailing party" under both fee-shifting provisions. Although defendants did not obtain a dismissal on the the Copyright and Lanham Acts claims, defendants have fulfilled their primary objective by obtaining dismissal of the complaint on collateral estoppel grounds. View "Manhattan Review, LLC v. Yun" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's order enjoining Reed Smith's action for tortious interference and unjust enrichment in New York state court against Wohl & Fruchter, in a dispute arising from the two firms' concurrent representation of the plaintiff class in the now-settled litigation. The court held that the district court had ancillary jurisdiction over the motion to stay the state court proceedings; the district court properly declined to abstain from exercising jurisdiction where all six factors in Woodford v. Cmty. Action Agency of Green Cty., Inc., 239 F.3d 517, 522 (2d Cir. 2001), favored retaining jurisdiction; the injunction was proper under the Anti-Injunction Act where the district court properly issued the injunction to prevent Reed Smith from relitigating the terms of the Fee Order; and Wohl & Fruchter's cross appeal was procedurally untenable. View "Kaplan v. Reed Smith LLP" on Justia Law

by
The United States appealed the district court's order precluding the government from introducing at trial certain testimony by a co-defendant turned government witness on the basis of the common-interest rule of attorney-client privilege. The Second Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court, finding nothing in the circumstances in this case to support the application of the privilege. Here, the excluded statements were not made to, in the presence of, or within the hearing of an attorney for any of the common-interest parties; nor did the excluded statements seek the advice of, or communicate advice previously given by, an attorney for any of the common-interest parties; nor were the excluded statements made for the purpose of communicating with such an attorney. View "United States v. Krug" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Court addressed in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Haeger, 137 S. Ct. 1178, 1183‐84 (2017), a federal court's inherent authority to sanction a litigant for bad‐faith conduct by ordering it to pay the other side's legal fees. The Court held that such an order is limited to the fees the innocent party incurred solely because of the misconduct—or put another way, to the fees that party would not have incurred but for the bad faith. This appeal stemmed from a suit against T-Mobile for property damage to a building T-Mobile had leased space on the roof of for cell tower equipment. The Second Circuit vacated and remanded the district court's order of sanctions because it was in serious tension with the Court's holding and because the district court was mislead by defendants' submissions in awarding such severe sanctions. View "Virginia Properties, LLC v. T-Mobile Northeast LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics

by
To vacate an arbitration award on the ground that the award was fraudulently procured, the petitioner must demonstrate the fraud was material to the award. There must be a nexus between the alleged fraud and the decision made by the arbitrators. The petitioner, however, need not demonstrate that the arbitrators would have reached a different result. In this case, Odeon brought a petition to vacate an arbitral award involving claims arising out of the termination of one of its employees. Odeon alleged that the arbitrators engaged in misconduct and acted in manifest disregard of the law, and then sought to amend its petition to assert fraud as an additional ground for vacatur. The Second Circuit held that Odeon failed to establish that the employee's alleged perjury had any impact on the arbitration award. The court also held that the district court applied the wrong legal standard in denying the employee's request for attorneys' fees where New York law provided statutory authority for the fee request. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded. View "Odeon Capital Group LLC v. Ackerman" on Justia Law

by
The Second Circuit vacated the district court's order denying plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees and costs incurred in litigating an appeal and cross-appeal under 42 U.S.C. 1988. After the court affirmed on the merits, the district court awarded a reduced award of attorneys' fees. The court affirmed the award in a summary order, stating that each side was to bear its own costs. The district court then denied plaintiffs' motion for attorneys' fees. The court held that its reference to "costs" in the context of Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 39 did not include attorneys' fees. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Hines v. City of Albany" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of a collection of New York regulations and laws that together prevent for‐profit law firms from accepting capital investment from non‐lawyers. The district court dismissed the complaint for failure to allege the infringement of any cognizable constitutional right. On de novo review, the court concluded that neither as a for-profit partnership nor as a professional limited liability company do plaintiffs have the associational or petition rights that they claim. Even if the court were to assume, given the evolving nature of commercial speech protections, that they possess First Amendment interests, the regulations at issue here were adequately supported by state interests and have too little effect on the attorney‐client relationship to be viewed as imposing an unlawful burden on plaintiffs' constitutional interests. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Jacoby & Meyers v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Departments" on Justia Law

by
Hermitage challenges the district court's denial of its motion to disqualify counsel for Prevezon. The underlying litigation arises out of a 2013 civil forfeiture action brought by the United States alleging that Prevezon received the proceeds of a complex, sweeping scheme that defrauded the Russian treasury of roughly $230 million. The government alleges Prevezon laundered portions of the fraud proceeds in New York by buying various real estate holdings in Manhattan. Hermitage, an investment advisory firm, is a victim of the Russian Treasury Fraud. The court concluded that this case presents the “extraordinary circumstances” necessary to grant a writ of mandamus, as Hermitage is without other viable avenues for relief and the district court misapplied well‐settled law. The court explained that it is rare that a nonparty, nonwitness will face the risk of prosecution by a foreign government based on the potential disclosure of confidential information obtained during a prior representation. That real risk, however, coupled with the misapplication of the law by the district court, outweighs the delay and inconvenience to Prevezon of obtaining new counsel. The court found the remaining arguments raised by the parties to be without merit. Accordingly, the court granted the petition for a writ of mandamus and instructed the district court to enter an order disqualifying Moscow and BakerHostetler from representing Prevezon in this litigation. Prevezon’s motion for clarification is denied as moot. View "United States v. Prevezon Holdings, Ltd." on Justia Law

by
FBK moved to dismiss for lack of appellate jurisdiction SHW's appeal from the district court's ruling on motions by SHW relating to its entitlement to attorneys' fees as former counsel to certain plaintiffs in the underlying action. FBK contends that because SHW did not consent, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 636(c), for all proceedings to be conducted before a magistrate judge, the magistrate judge's orders must be treated merely as recommendations to be reviewed by the district court, and that appeal directly to this court from the orders of the magistrate judge is unauthorized. The court denied the motion, concluding that the consent of SHW as counsel or former counsel was not required because section 636(c)'s consent requirement applies to parties (and to persons who move to become parties, see New York Chinese TV Programs, Inc. v. U.E. Enterprises, Inc., 996 F.2d 21 (2d Cir. 1993)), and the parties in this case had given the requisite consent. View "In re McCray, Richardson, Santana, Wise, and Salaam Litigation" on Justia Law

Posted in: Legal Ethics