Thursday, January 31, 2008
Civ Pro Matters - the bell tolls for thee
Today, after more than two years of litigation and a ton of money on the line ($20 million), twelve jurors returned a unanimous defense verdict for Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP against a former client for one simple reason: the statute of limitations.
Purolite alleged that in the 1990's, despite the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, Morgan counseled it to continue selling to Cuba from its foreign offices. In 1999, as one might have guessed, Don and Stefan Brodie, the Pennsylvania-based brothers who own Purolite, were indicted for violating the Trading With the Enemy Act (not to be confused with Sleeping With the Enemy). They later pled guilty to a lesser charge.
Morgan claimed that the brothers Brodie ignored the firm's advice to stop selling to Cuba because, "They didn't like to be told what to do." Ouch! I'm sure it's not the first or last time the firm counseled a slightly belligerent client, but it's surprising to hear Morgan speak that way about a former client. I wonder if its current clients are a little uncomfortable right now . . .
In the end though, Purolite appears to have slumbered too long on their rights and slept right through the tolling of the proverbial bell: the statute of limitations. Regardless of whether Morgan counseled for or against sale to Cuba (and that does matter from an integrity perspective) the partners over at Morgan must be glad they attended Civ Pro the day the statute of limitations was covered. They must also be glad that Purolite's current counsel apparently didn't attend class that day.
Thanks to Law.com for the tip!