Philadelphia partner Larry Fox was quoted in The Recorder in an article on yogurt maker Chobani’s efforts to have opposing counsel in a food-labeling class action disqualified because they consulted with an expert previously retained by the defense.
If successful, the motion could stop the case in its tracks, particularly because this is a class action where individual plaintiffs are ill-equipped to simply hire new lawyers. The case raises questions about the standard for ejecting lawyers when they court an expert witness working for the other side.
While Chobani claims that plaintiffs’ lawyers find themselves in a "legally impermissible position," plaintiffs’ counsel insist they did not know a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official they hired to consult on a swath of litigation had previously advised Chobani's defense team and since no confidential information was exchanged, there are no grounds for disqualification.
Larry, the current Crawford Visiting Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and the Supervisor of the Yale Ethics Bureau, submitted a declaration accusing defense lawyers of a "shocking attempt to secure draconian relief" and opined that disqualification would be "the death of the action."
It was Chobani's lawyers, Larry asserted, who violated rules of civil procedure by intimidating the FDA official into ending her contract with plaintiffs’ counsel.
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