Santorsola v. Manusos

Filing 42

ORDER denying Plaintiff's 35 Motion to Strike Notice of Appearance ; denying Plaintiff's 33 Amended Motion to Disqualify. Signed by Judge Robert S. Lasnik. (SWT)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 7 8 9 NICHOLAS SANTORSOLA, Plaintiff, 10 11 12 13 No. C16-29RSL v. MICHAEL MANUSOS, Defendant. ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS TO DISQUALIFY COUNSEL AND TO STRIKE NOTICE OF APPEARANCE 14 15 This matter comes before the Court on plaintiff’s “Motion to Disqualify Counsel,” Dkt. 16 # 33, and “Motion to Strike Notice of Appearance,” Dkt. # 35. In both motions, plaintiff asks 17 the Court to disqualify defendant’s counsel, Thomas George Crowell, on the grounds that 18 Mr. Crowell is employed by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (“State Farm”) 19 and both plaintiff and defendant are insured by State Farm. (State Farm engaged Mr. Crowell to 20 represent defendant in this action pursuant to defendant’s insurance policy. Dkt. # 38, ¶ 1.) 21 Plaintiff claims that this constitutes a “concurrent conflict of interest” in violation of the 22 American Bar Association Model Rules of Professional Conduct and Washington Rule of 23 Professional Conduct 1.7. 24 Those ethics rules do not apply to these circumstances. Neither Mr. Crowell nor any 25 other member of State Farm’s legal office represents or has ever represented plaintiff. Dkt. # 38, 26 ¶ 2. Plaintiff cites no legal authority for the proposition that his insurer may not provide a legal 27 28 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS TO DISQUALIFY AND TO STRIKE - 1 1 defense to another insured pursuant to the terms of that insured’s policy, and the Court is aware 2 of none. Though plaintiff highlights defendant’s informed consent pursuant to RPC 1.8(f)(1), 3 that ethics rule applies where a third party – such as an insurance company – pays for a party’s 4 legal expenses. The rule does not establish a concurrent conflict of interest involving the other 5 party to the lawsuit. 6 7 8 For all the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s motions to disqualify and to strike (Dkt. ## 33, 35) are DENIED. 9 10 SO ORDERED this 8th day of June, 2017. 11 12 13 14 A Robert S. Lasnik United States District Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTIONS TO DISQUALIFY AND TO STRIKE - 2

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