In Bridgepoint Construction Services, Inc. v. Newton et al., Robert G. Klein filed an action on behalf of Bridgepoint and Salter
In Bridgepoint Construction Services, Inc. v. Newton et al. (Second Appellate District, Div. 6, 9/4/18), Robert G. Klein filed an action on behalf of Bridgepoint and Salter, one of Bridgepoint’s two shareholders in Santa Barbara County. Thereafter, the defendant cross-complained against Bridgepoint, Salter, and Ram, Salter’s business associate. In December, 2014, Robert G. Klein represented all 3 of these parties. In January, 2017, Newton, a Defendant, and the other shareholder in Bridgepoint successfully moved to disqualify Robert G. Klein from representing Salter, and Bridgepoint because Bridgepoint and Salter have conflict over indemnity claims. Undeterred, in February, 2017, Robert G. Klein filed a cross-complaint against Newton, et al. for Ram. In Arizona, Robert G. Klein continued to represent Salter, and Bridgepoint in a federal action. Thereafter, Bridgepoint successfully moved to disqualify Robert G. Klein from representing Ram. The trial court did so because Robert G. Klein represents Bridgepoint in an Arizona action while in the California action Bridgepoint and Ram both seek to recover damages from the same pool of money. The court of appeal agreed with the trial court, and found that Robert G. Klein’s representation of Bridgepoint, and Ram simultaneously, albeit in different actions, required automatic disqualification. Further, the representation of Ram against Bridgepoint, a former client in the California action, required disqualification where there was a substantial relationship between the subject matter, and the attorney obtains confidential information. Here, Robert G. Klein obtained confidential information when he had access to Bridgepoint’s expert in review of its financial records. In the Court of Appeal, Robert G. Klein unsuccessfully argued that there is no conflict of interest because his clients and former clients all sue the same people. The Court of Appeal found that unpersuasive because of Robert G. Klein’s clients sought recovery from the same finite pool of money. Robert G. Klein argued that disqualification deprived Ram of the counsel of his choosing but the Court of Appeal noted that occurs in nearly every instance of disqualification. Next, Robert G. Klein argued that the conflict of interest was hypothetical but the Court of Appeal disagreed given that all of the parties in question sought relief from the same funds. Robert G. Klein also unpersuasively asserted that Bridgepoint’s cross-complaint was a sham which the Court of Appeal declined to do on appeal.