The Dallas Morning News has reported that a judge in Dallas has removed Bickel & Brewer from an international lawsuit following claims that the firm and its co-counsel paid a witness for insider information.
The law firm was removed from representing RSR Corp. by State District Judge Carlos Cortez. The company is based in Dallas and is a lead smelter. The company is suing a Chilean business partner for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty and theft. The lawsuit asks for as much as $60 million in damages.
For four years now lawyers have been arguing the case, which means legal expenses have possibly gone over the $1 million mark. Both sides have claimed fabrication of testimony, witness bribery and withholding of evidence. One of the claims made against Bickel & Brewer is that the firm paid a former executive with the company $1 million over a three year period for privileged, inside information about the case.
Cortez, in his ruling, wrote, “there is without question a genuine threat” that the lawyers from the firm have information from confidential documents that provided it with an improper advantage in the case. Cortez turned down requests from the defense to sanction the firm financially.
The firm released a statement denying the claims that it obtained information illegally and that it will appeal the judge’s decision. The statement reads as follows:
“We respectfully disagree with Judge Cortez’s order, and our clients will pursue appropriate relief in the Court of Appeals,” said James S. Renard, partner at Bickel & Brewer in Dallas.
A motion was filed last fall by Michael Lynn, who is representing the defendant, Inppamet Ltda. Lynn filed the motion against Bickel & Brewer and co-counsel Jorge Bofill that claimed the two parties hired Inppamet’s former chief financial officer as a consultant to provide information about the case.
The executive who was hired has been identified as Hernan Sobarzo. Court documents claim that he “secretly copied and retained approximately 2.3 gigabytes of company email and files containing Inppamet’s confidential business and privileged information.”
The ruling from Cortez also said, “In a meeting with … Bill Brewer, Mr. Sobarzo indicated he would only do so if RSR agreed in writing to compensate him for his efforts, provide him with indemnity and immunity from ‘legal harm’ that could result from his conduct… and provide what Sobarzo called ‘job loss insurance.’ Brewer assured Sobarzo that each of these conditions would be met. He said, don’t worry about that.”