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Beltran v. Avon Products, Inc.

2012 WL 2108667 (2012)

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Beltran v. Avon Products, Inc.

United States District Court for the Central District of California

2012 WL 2108667 (2012)

Facts

Marina Beltran (plaintiff) brought a class-action lawsuit in federal district court against cosmetic company Avon Products, Inc. (Avon) (defendant), alleging that Avon falsely advertised that it did not test its products on animals. Two firms, Eagan Avenatti, LLP and the X-Law Group, represented Beltran. Two of the X-Law Group’s four lawyers worked on Beltran’s litigation. Paul Hastings, LLC represented Avon, and Dennis Ellis was the lead Paul Hastings attorney on Beltran’s case. Avon moved to disqualify both Eagan Avenatti and the X-Law Group, arguing that a conflict of interest existed because Jason Frank, a partner at Eagan Avenatti, had previously worked at Paul Hastings, and Frank had spent 336 hours over six years working on Avon matters, including a products-liability action that implicated product testing and marketing issues and a class-action lawsuit alleging false advertising. Frank informed Ellis that Eagan Avenatti was filing Beltran’s complaint, and Frank participated in the disqualification motion but was not part of Beltran’s litigation team. Eagan Avenatti claimed that it erected an ethical wall between Frank and Beltran’s litigation team two weeks after Beltran’s complaint was filed. Frank filed an affidavit swearing that he knew of no confidential information about Avon that was relevant to Beltran’s lawsuit. Ellis, Frank’s longtime friend and colleague, filed an affidavit swearing that Frank possessed extensive adverse confidential information about Avon’s product testing and advertising practices and litigation and business strategies.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Carney, J.)

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