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Eastman Kodak Co. v. Sony Corp.

United States District Court for the Western District of New York
2004 WL 2984297 (2004)


Facts

Woods Oviatt Gilman, LLP (Woods), was a law firm in Rochester, New York. Kodak (plaintiff) was the area’s largest employer. Woods had actively sought to avoid representing Kodak in order to be able to represent other entities in the region without conflicts of interest. One of Woods’ clients was Heidelberg Digital, LLC (Heidelberg). While Woods was representing Heidelberg, including in two employment-discrimination suits, Kodak acquired Heidelberg. Heidelberg became a wholly owned subsidiary of Kodak, and Kodak’s legal department assumed responsibility for all Heidelberg legal matters, including the two employment-discrimination suits. After this acquisition, one of Woods’ partners became the local counsel for two clients in proceedings in which Kodak was the opposing party, one of which was a patent-infringement suit in which the Woods partner was representing Sony Corp. (defendant) against Kodak. Kodak requested that the partner withdraw from representing the two clients that were adverse to Kodak. Woods refused and offered instead to withdraw from representing Kodak in the two employment-discrimination suits. Kodak rejected this offer and filed motions to have the Woods partner disqualified from both of the proceedings in which Kodak was the opposing party.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Feldman, J.)

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