Government of India v. Cook Industries, Inc., No. 74

CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
Writing for the CourtBefore MANSFIELD and TIMBERS, Circuit Judges, and DOOLING; TIMBERS; MANSFIELD
Citation569 F.2d 737
PartiesThe GOVERNMENT OF INDIA and The Food Corporation of India, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. COOK INDUSTRIES, INC. and Cook and Company, Defendants-Appellees. ocket 76-7618.
Docket NumberNo. 74,D
Decision Date13 January 1978

Page 737

569 F.2d 737
The GOVERNMENT OF INDIA and The Food Corporation of India,
Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
COOK INDUSTRIES, INC. and Cook and Company, Defendants-Appellees.
No. 74, Docket 76-7618.
United States Court of Appeals,
Second Circuit.
Argued Sept. 15, 1977.
Decided Jan. 13, 1978.

Page 738

Alvin H. Meadow, New York City (Norman Moloshok, and Delson & Gordon, New York City, on the brief), for plaintiffs-appellants.

Victor S. Friedman, New York City (Jeffrey M. Siger, David M. Glass, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, New York City, on the brief), for defendants-appellees.

Before MANSFIELD and TIMBERS, Circuit Judges, and DOOLING, District Judge. *

TIMBERS, Circuit Judge:

On this appeal from an order entered in the Southern District of New York, Robert J. Ward, District Judge, 422 F.Supp. 1057, the question presented is whether the district court correctly disqualified attorney Frederick W. Meeker and the law firm with which he presently is associated, Delson & Gordon, from representing in the instant action plaintiffs The Government of India and The Food Corporation of India (collectively, "India") on the ground that Meeker, while associated with the law firm of Hill, Rivkins, Carey, Loesberg and O'Brien ("Hill, Rivkins"), in a similar action previously had represented defendants Cook Industries, Inc. and Cook and Company (collectively, "Cook"). We hold that the district court correctly disqualified the attorney and his law firm. We affirm.

I.

In view of the district court's adequate findings of fact which we accept, Fed.R. Civ. P. 52(a), we summarize here only those facts necessary to an understanding of our rulings below on the legal issues presented.

Shortly before Meeker's graduation from law school in June 1972, he became associated with Hill, Rivkins. In 1973 he was assigned to represent Cook in two closely related actions which were commenced in 1973 against Cook in the Southern District of New York (the "Soybean Actions").

In the Soybean Actions plaintiffs alleged that Cook had sent them a shipment of soybeans from Louisiana which, upon arrival at its destination in Taiwan, was found to be 254 tons short of the amount stated on the bills of lading and weight certificates. Plaintiffs, alleging that either Cook or the carrier had failed to perform its contractual obligations, commenced separate actions against each. In the action against the carrier, the latter impleaded Cook, alleging that if there was a shortage it was due to Cook. The two actions were consolidated. On February 20, 1976, Judge Stewart dismissed both of the Soybean Actions.

On April 5, 1976, Meeker, having left Hill, Rivkins, became associated with Delson & Gordon. Within a month he was assigned to represent the India plaintiffs against the Cook defendants in the instant action which was commenced May 3, 1976.

Upon the refusal of Delson & Gordon and Meeker to withdraw as counsel for plaintiffs in the present action at the request of Cook's counsel, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the motion to disqualify was filed. From the order of November 19, 1976 granting that motion, the instant appeal has been taken.

II.

In the context of this sequence of events, we focus upon those facts which bear upon the relationship between the issues in the

Page 739

respective cases and Meeker's involvement therein.

In the Soybean Actions, the validity of the critical documents had been challenged in the carrier's third-party complaint. They also were contested by plaintiffs and the carrier in opposing Cook's motion for summary judgment. In an affidavit by counsel for the carrier in opposition to that motion it had been asserted that "any fraud which may have been present originated with Cook or its agents." This was in response to Meeker's affidavit in support of Cook's motion for summary judgment which alleged that any shortage had been caused by the carrier's fraudulent bills of lading.

During the three years of Meeker's association with Hill, Rivkins, the firm billed Cook for more than one hundred hours of Meeker's services. Among other services, Meeker prepared answers to the complaints against Cook, a motion for a stay pending arbitration, a request for admissions, a motion for summary judgment and various memoranda in support of these motions. He interviewed a witness with regard to the weight certificates. He attended several pretrial conferences and one settlement conference. Throughout this period he maintained close contact with Cook's general counsel.

In the instant action India alleges, as plaintiffs did in the Soybean Actions, that grain delivered pursuant to contracts with Cook were of "short weight". A central allegation here, as in the earlier actions, is that the amounts of grain actually delivered differed from the amounts stated on the weight certificates. As in the Soybean Actions, it is alleged in the instant action that the documents were fraudulently issued.

Other facts are clearly set forth in the district court's opinion, with which we assume familiarity. 422 F.Supp. at 1059, 1061-63.

III.

Turning to the legal issues presented in light of these facts, we must determine essentially whether the district court was correct in holding that Cook, the former client which made the disqualification motion, sustained its burden of showing (1) that the issues in the prior and...

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306 practice notes
  • In re Kelton Motors, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 88-00255.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court —District of Vermont
    • 8 Diciembre 1989
    ..."heavy" burden. Evans v. Artek Systems Corp., supra, 715 F.2d at 794 (2d Cir.1983) (citing, Government of India v. Cook Industries, Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978)); In re Stamford Color Photo, Inc., supra, 98 B.R. at 137. This is not to say we need always find actual conflict before ......
  • Red Ball Interior Demolition Corp. v. Palmadessa, No. 94 Civ. 4158 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 28 Noviembre 1995
    ...showing that the relationship between issues in the prior and present cases is "patently clear". Government of India v. Cook Indus., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739-40 (2d Cir.1978). "Put more specifically, disqualification has been granted or approved recently only when the issues involved have be......
  • Copantitla v. Fiskardo Estiatorio Inc. D/B/A Thalassa Rest., No. 09 Civ. 1608(RJH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 27 Mayo 2011
    ...‘the need to maintain the highest standards of the profession.’ ” Hempstead, 409 F.3d at 132 (quoting Gov't of India v. Cook Indus., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978)). Although “decisions on disqualification motions often benefit from guidance offered by the American Bar Association (A......
  • In re I Successor Corp., Bankruptcy No. 02 B 23150-23151ASH
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of New York
    • 10 Marzo 2005
    ...relationships, the movant must meet a high standard of proof to disqualify the movant's former counsel. Gov't of India v. Cook Ind., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978); Red Ball Interior Demolition Corp. v. Palmadessa, 908 F.Supp. 1226, 1239 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Stratavest Ltd. v. Rogers, 90......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
307 cases
  • In re Kelton Motors, Inc., Bankruptcy No. 88-00255.
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court —District of Vermont
    • 8 Diciembre 1989
    ..."heavy" burden. Evans v. Artek Systems Corp., supra, 715 F.2d at 794 (2d Cir.1983) (citing, Government of India v. Cook Industries, Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978)); In re Stamford Color Photo, Inc., supra, 98 B.R. at 137. This is not to say we need always find actual conflict before ......
  • Red Ball Interior Demolition Corp. v. Palmadessa, No. 94 Civ. 4158 (RWS).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 28 Noviembre 1995
    ...showing that the relationship between issues in the prior and present cases is "patently clear". Government of India v. Cook Indus., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739-40 (2d Cir.1978). "Put more specifically, disqualification has been granted or approved recently only when the issues involved have be......
  • Copantitla v. Fiskardo Estiatorio Inc. D/B/A Thalassa Rest., No. 09 Civ. 1608(RJH).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • 27 Mayo 2011
    ...‘the need to maintain the highest standards of the profession.’ ” Hempstead, 409 F.3d at 132 (quoting Gov't of India v. Cook Indus., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978)). Although “decisions on disqualification motions often benefit from guidance offered by the American Bar Association (A......
  • In re I Successor Corp., Bankruptcy No. 02 B 23150-23151ASH
    • United States
    • United States Bankruptcy Courts. Second Circuit. U.S. Bankruptcy Court — Southern District of New York
    • 10 Marzo 2005
    ...relationships, the movant must meet a high standard of proof to disqualify the movant's former counsel. Gov't of India v. Cook Ind., Inc., 569 F.2d 737, 739 (2d Cir.1978); Red Ball Interior Demolition Corp. v. Palmadessa, 908 F.Supp. 1226, 1239 (S.D.N.Y. 1995); Stratavest Ltd. v. Rogers, 90......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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