Friday, December 19, 2014

Does This Seem Like a Good Thing for Lawyers to Do?


Judge Ungaro will be deciding this incendiary motion alleging serious misconduct by defendant's counsel in a suit over self-storage insurance policies:
Public Storage’s counsel solicited putative class members, with interests adverse to Public Storage, to forfeit their rights and assist Public Storage’s defense.1 To do so, Public Storage and its counsel committed a number of ethical violations, including undertaking conflicted representations, providing a financial inducement to at least one witness who provided favorable testimony, and violations of the duty of candor.

Through that campaign, Public Storage obtained at least ten declarations from putative class members who, in declarations drafted by Public Storage’s lawyers, purport to desire to opt out of the class. Public Storage’s counsel undertook to represent these declarants, all of whom had interests patently adverse to Public Storage, and seemingly advised them, contrary to their own interests, to “opt-out” of the putative class and submit a declaration that Public Storage believed would be harmful to the class’ likelihood of recovery. Worse still, Arthur Biringer, received a financial incentive from Public Storage. Of course, “[j]ustice must not be bought or sold.” Golden Door Jewelry Creations, Inc. v. Lloyds Underwriters Non-Marine Ass’n, 865 F. Supp. 1516, 1525 (S.D. Fla. 1994).
Remember there are two (or more) sides to every story, but we will be following this one closely.

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