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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Minn. AG Swanson appeals disqualification of outside counsel

By John O'Brien | Oct 18, 2012


MINNEAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Minnesota Attorney General has appealed a judge's decision that booted private attorneys she hired off a case against 3M.

Both Swanson and the law firm Covington & Burling are appealing the decision of Hennepin County District Court Judge Robert Blaeser, who said the firm's previous representation of 3M on another matter is enough to disqualify it from Swanson's case.

"The District Court granted the motion (to disqualify) on Oct. 11 in an opinion that copied essentially verbatim the factual statements in 3M's memorandum in support of the motion and ignored material undisputed facts submitted by the State, as well as material facts of the State that disputed facts submitted by 3M," the firm wrote.

Swanson's lawsuit, filed in late 2010, alleges 3M contaminated ground and surface water and natural resources during its disposal of chemicals called perfluorochemicals used to make stain repellants like Scotchguard, fire retardants, paints and chemical products.

The firm's notice of appeal notes that it has represented the State in environmental matters since 1995.

The firm also represented 3M in a case regarding microwave food packaging, the notice says. It says none of the confidential information from the case has made its way to the lawyers prosecuting the State's claim, and that there is a screen in place that would prevent that from ever happening.

Covington & Burling say the company did not move to disqualify until after more than 50 depositions in the case were produced.

Timothy Hester, chair of Covington's management committee stated, "3M was a former Covington client when we took on the representation of the State (itself a long-time client), and the prior representation identified by 3M was not substantially related to the new matter, and in any event 3M waived any right to seek disqualification by its unjustified 15-month delay in objecting."

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