Judge withdraws sanctions against DLA Piper lawyers, cites ‘game-changing’ testimony

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A federal judge in Manhattan has withdrawn sanctions she imposed last year on a DLA Piper partner and a former lawyer with the law firm.

In a Jan. 13 opinion, U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest cited “game-changing” testimony that changed her mind about sanctions in prescription drug litigation, the New York Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Forrest’s opinion lifts her $10,000 sanction against DLA Piper partner Brian John Pendleton Jr. and her $1,500 sanction against former DLA Piper lawyer Gina Trimarco.

Forrest had imposed the sanctions in June 2016 amid competing claims about what happened during a January 2016 phone call with a former employee for a DLA Piper client. The former employee said he was speaking with lawyers representing his former employer when he heard a male voice during the call telling him not to speak to opposing counsel.

Forrest concluded then that the male voice belonged to Pendleton, and he had apparently violated her court order stating that lawyers should not interfere with interviews of witnesses by opposing counsel. And she concluded that Pendleton and Trimarco intentionally misled her when they denied that Pendleton gave the advice.

Forrest lifted the sanctions after hearing from four other employees of the law firm client who said neither Pendleton nor Trimarco had ever advised them not to speak with opposing counsel. She also noted that Pendleton and Trimarco continued to insist that they never gave the alleged advice.

“It is inconceivable to this court that after all of the proceedings in this matter, and the danger that false testimony carries at such a point, that either of these individuals would get on the witness stand (or be put on the witness stand by their lawyers), only to lie,” Forrest wrote in the Jan. 13 opinion. “The court credits their testimony.”





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