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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Politically active class action firm sanctioned for using false witness in case against Boeing

By David Yates | Aug 28, 2014

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) – Over the years, the securities law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and its attorneys have reaped staggering multi-billion dollar awards from companies and in turn doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to political candidates.

Now, U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo in Chicago has found a new use for the San Diego firm’s hard-earned cash - paying sanctions to Boeing for bringing a frivolous lawsuit based on the testimony of a false witness.

The original lawsuit, filed in 2009, alleged Boeing withheld information concerning delays in producing the 787 Dreamliner, causing the company’s stock to dip, court records show.

The case relied on the testimony of a project chief engineer, who in actuality turned out to be a contracted employee hired to perform low-level engineering work on a different airplane months after the events at issue in this case, states Castillo’s Aug. 21 order.

In his order, Castillo says Robbins Geller failed to conduct a proper investigation before filing suit, “blindly” relying on their investigators and making repeated misrepresentations to the court as to the strength and truth of the confidential source’s allegations.

“This court is always reluctant to sanction a member of the bar,” Castillo wrote. “It gives the court no pleasure to issue sanctions; nevertheless, the court cannot ignore plaintiffs’ counsel’s repeated misconduct throughout this litigation.”

The firm was ordered to pay Boeing's attorneys fees and other costs.

As pointed out in Castillo’s order, this isn’t the first time the firm has been singled out for misconduct.

In May 2012, Legal Newsline reported U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush, of Washington’s federal eastern district, warned Robbins Geller he would be sanctioning the firm, along with attorneys Joy Bull and John Grant.

The two attorneys had led a class action against the student-travel company Ambassadors Group.

Finding that the law firm had purposely padded its hours and expense sheets in the case, Quackenbush asked Bull and Grant to show why class members should pay for expenses that included a $402 dinner, which included two $72 bottles of wine and a $60 tip for the waiter, expensive hotel rooms and two round-trip plane ticket that cost almost $4,000.

Robbins Geller has earned a reputation for securing massive awards from companies on behalf of shareholders.

For example, in the Enron Corp. securities litigation, Robbins Geller attorneys and lead plaintiff the Regents of the University of California aggressively pursued numerous defendants, including many of Wall Street’s biggest banks, and successfully obtained settlements in excess of $7.3 billion for the benefit of investors, according to the firm’s website.

And the firm and its attorneys have a history of re-directing portions of those awards to liberal candidates.

Over the past 10 years, the Robbins Geller attorneys have spent nearly $1 million in state elections alone, according to followthemoney.org.

On the federal level, Robbins Geller attorneys have pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the coffers of candidates so far in this year’s election cycle.

One of the primary beneficiaries of those donations is U.S. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, with $15,600 in contributions from firm attorneys.

Braley, the former head of the Iowa Trial Lawyers Association, is a candidate running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Tom Harkin.

Earlier this year, the congressman made national media headline for his remarks at a January fundraiser in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he asked a group of trial lawyers to help keep a “farmer” (GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley) from becoming the next chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Eclipsing Braley as top recipient of Robbins Geller donations is U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., netting $26,700 from its attorneys in his 2014 re-election bid.

Since 2011, Robbins Geller has been Peters' top contributor, supplying the former San Diego city councilman with more than $60,000 in donations, according to opensecrets.org.

Other candidates significantly benefiting financially from Robbins Geller attorneys include Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, ($14,100); comedian and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., ($10,950); and Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., ($5,200).

Reach David Yates at elections@legalnewsline.com

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