Qualcomm’s former attorneys are blaming the company for failing to turn over nearly 50,000 case-killing documents.
That massive withholding resulted in sanctions against both Qualcomm and the attorneys.
Former Day Casebeer lawyers (the firm is now defunct) are telling the court that “numerous individuals” at Qualcomm failed to disclose critical information to their counsel, resulting in what The Recorder called “the most infamous discovery fiasco in recent times.” The attorneys are defending themselves against court-imposed sanctions resulting from the discovery abuse.
The short version is Qualcomm sued Broadcom for patent infringement, a suit that, under the facts, would have been barred if Qualcomm participated in an industry group called the Joint Video Team. Qualcomm repeatedly represented that it had not, and, according to its lawyers, told them the same thing.
The case went all the way to trial, and an associate was meeting with a Qualcomm engineer about his trial testimony when he discovered 21 emails on the engineer’s computer indicating Qualcomm had participated in the JTV; that was the tip of the iceberg to 46,000 relevant emails.
The failure to have produced these emails resulted not only in sanctions, but Qualcomm having to pay Broadcom’s nearly $10 million in legal bills.
This is a nightmare scenario for all outside counsel. Finding damning documents about your client is always terrible. Finding them during trial is heart-attack inducing.
Clients, with reason, hate having to pull thousands of old files and devise electronic date recovery plans to grab all relevant emails. But it is of course part of the attorney’s job to push and question and prod until it’s comfortable representing everything has been found.
That said, there are of course limits to what one can do if your client is purposefully disclosing materials from you and lying about it. Here, the lawyers said one Qualcomm employee denied the existence of a meeting in Austria that she had in fact attended.
But 46,000 directly relevant documents should come up in near any search mechanism devised, so it will be specifically examined what exactly the lawyers told Qualcomm to look for and how far they went to make sure they did.
This case will continue to be closely watched by both inside and outside counsel to glean specific clues over how to avoid this situation — at any (extremely high-priced data-searching) costs.
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