In the years since Henriksen v. Great American Sav. & Loan Assn. (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 109, California courts have differed over whether vicarious disqualification of a firm that hires an attorney who used to be in a firm that represents the opponent in on-going litigation should be automatic or imposed only when the hiring firm fails to erect a sufficient ethical wall. Here, the court says it doesn’t resolve that split but effectively adopts the non-automatic disqualification position by holding that in this unusual case the trial court should not have automatically disqualified the hiring firm but should weigh the circumstances since the disqualified attorney worked at the hiring firm for only 5 weeks, was not intimately involved in the litigation at the former firm and wasn’t involved in it at all at the hiring firm, and worked in a different office from those who were prosecuting the case at the hiring firm.
California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three (Moore, J.); January 26, 2018; 2018 WL 561707.