RUPERT et al v. FORD MOTOR COMPANY
ORDER denying 9 Motion to Disqualify Counsel. Signed by Judge Cathy Bissoon on 5/14/2012. (rtt)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
MICHAEL T. RUPERT and
JACQUELINE C. RUPERT,
FORD MOTOR COMPANY,
Civil Action No. 12-331
Judge Cathy Bissoon
Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Jacqueline C. Rupert’s (“Ms. Rupert’s”) motion to
disqualify (Doc. 9) Thomas W. King, III (“Attorney King”) as counsel for Plaintiff Michael T.
Rupert (“Mr. Rupert”). For the reasons stated herein, the Court will deny Ms. Rupert’s motion.
Attorney King formerly represented both Mr. and Ms. Rupert with respect to other claims
related to the car accident that is the subject of this product liability action. Attorney King no
longer represents Ms. Rupert. Ms. Rupert seeks to disqualify Attorney King and his law firm,
Dillon, McCandless, King, Coulter and Graham, LLP, from representing Mr. Rupert in this
“[A] former client seeking to disqualify a law firm representing an adverse party on the
basis of its past relationship with a member of the law firm has the burden of proving: (1) that a
past attorney/client relationship existed which was adverse to a subsequent representation by the
law firm of the other client; (2) that the subject matter of the relationship was substantially
related; (3) that a member of the law firm, as attorney for the adverse party, acquired knowledge
of confidential information from or concerning the former client, actually or by operation of
law.” Estate of Pew, 655 A.2d 521, 545-46 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1994); see also Pa. Rule of
Professional Conduct 1.9.
Ms. Rupert asserts:
It is entirely possible . . . that Ms. Rupert and Mr. Rupert will have
very different positions. For example, if their separation is
exploited, Ms. Rupert will have to explain the circumstances and it
is likely, Mr. Rupert will take a different position. Thus, [Ms.
Rupert’s] consortium claim could pit the Ruperts against one
another, with King on Mr. Rupert’s side, armed with highly
confidential and personal information disclosed by Ms. Rupert
during the course of joint representation.
Ms. Rupert’s Br. 4-5 (Doc. 9). Ms. Rupert has not demonstrated that Attorney King’s prior
representation of Ms. Rupert was adverse to Attorney King’s current representation of Mr.
Rupert in this action. Even if Mr. and Ms. Rupert provide different explanations for the
circumstances of their separation, that would not make Mr. and Ms. Rupert’s interests adverse in
Ms. Rupert’s loss of consortium claim against Defendant Ford Motor Company.
For the reasons stated above, the Court hereby ORDERS that Plaintiff Jacqueline C.
Rupert’s Motion to Disqualify (Doc. 9) is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/ Cathy Bissoon
United States District Judge
May 14, 2012
cc (via e-mail):
All counsel of record.
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?