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Adams v. Aerojet-General Corp.

86 Cal. App. 4th 1324, 104 Cal. Rptr. 2d 116 (2001)

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Adams v. Aerojet-General Corp.

California Court of Appeal

86 Cal. App. 4th 1324, 104 Cal. Rptr. 2d 116 (2001)

Facts

Attorney Michael Hackard was a partner in a three-partner firm that advised Aerojet-General Corp. (Aerojet) (defendant) but did not work on Aerojet matters himself. Aerojet gave the firm confidential information about chemical contamination at its hazardous-waste treatment and disposal site and surrounding areas and its strategies for handling environmental litigation and public relations. Hackard said no one shared any information about or discussed Aerojet matters with him. Nine years later, Hackard’s new firm represented numerous residents who brought a toxic-tort action against Aerojet alleging it contaminated the groundwater and surrounding soils. Aerojet moved to disqualify Hackard’s new firm from representing the residents. The trial court applied the imputed-knowledge rule and concluded a presumption applied that Hackard gained confidential information about Aerojet at his former firm that required disqualification. The residents appealed, arguing Hackard had no personal knowledge or confidential information about Aerojet.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Callahan, J.)

Dissent (Scotland, J.)

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