Justia Legal Ethics Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Jacoby & Meyers v. The Presiding Justices of the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Departments
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
Posted in: Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Legal Ethics, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
United States v. Prevezon Holdings, Ltd.
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
In re McCray, Richardson, Santana, Wise, and Salaam Litigation
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
Binder & Binder v. Colvin
Binder, a law firm representing claimants before the SSA, appealed from summary judgment in two related cases where Binder seeks past attorney's fees. When Binder sought to hold the SSA liable for the fees, the district courts granted summary judgment to the SSA on the basis of sovereign immunity. The court affirmed the judgments and held that, regardless of the SSA’s statutory duties to withhold attorney’s fees from payments to successful claimants, there is no waiver of sovereign immunity in 42 U.S.C. 406(a) that would permit Binder’s lawsuits for money damages. View "Binder & Binder v. Colvin" on Justia Law
Posted in: Government & Administrative Law, Legal Ethics, Public Benefits, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
In Re: Bank of America Corp.
Flanagan appealed the district court's denial of the law firm's request for attorneys' fees drawn from a settlement fund in a consolidated securities class action. The court held that the standard set forth in In re Cendant Corp. Litig. (Cendant II) applies to fee applications from non‐lead counsel for work completed after the appointment of lead plaintiff and lead counsel where the fee to non‐lead counsel is one part of a capped percentage of a common fund. In this case, the district court should have afforded a rebuttable presumption of correctness to Lead Plaintiffs’ proposed allocation of fees to Flanagan. Because the district court analyzed Flanagan's request under an incorrect standard, the court vacated the order and remanded for further proceedings. View "In Re: Bank of America Corp." on Justia Law
Steiner v. Lewmar, Inc.
This appeal stemmed from a dispute regarding a contract the parties entered into, which gave Lewmar the exclusive right to manufacture and sell Steinerʹs patented sailboat winch handle, a device used to control the lines and sails of a sailboat. The parties resolved the dispute when Lewmar made, and Steiner accepted, an offer of judgment under Rule 68 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. After judgment was entered, Steiner moved for attorneysʹ fees of $383,804 and costs of $41,470. The district court denied attorneysʹ fees but awarded costs of $2,926. The court concluded that Steiner was precluded from seeking fees pursuant to the Agreement in addition to the $175,000 settlement amount because claims under the Agreement were unambiguously included in the Offer; Steiner was not precluded from seeking attorneysʹ fees under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42‐110g(d), because the Offer did not unambiguously encompass claims for attorneysʹ fees under CUTPA; and the court remanded for the district court to clarify whether it considered the claim for attorneys' fees under CUTPA on the merits and if not, to do so. Finally, the court concluded that the district court correctly added costs under the ʺcosts then accruedʺ provision of Rule 68. View "Steiner v. Lewmar, Inc." on Justia Law
Posted in: Business Law, Civil Procedure, Contracts, Legal Ethics, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
Bernstein v. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP
Plaintiff filed suit against his former law firm and five of its partners, alleging that he had been forced to resign after blowing the whistle on what he considered to be the firm’s unethical litigation conduct. The parties eventually settled the suit and then sought an order directing the clerk of the court to close the file while leaving it permanently sealed. The district court denied the parties' request. The court held that pleadings, even in settled cases, are judicial records subject to a presumption of public access. The court concluded that the district court engaged in a thoughtful analysis of the competing interests at stake and the district court's conclusions were amply supported. Finally, the court concluded that sealing of the complaint is not justified in order to protect “confidential client information.” Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Bernstein v. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP" on Justia Law