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Lansing-Delaware Water District v. Oak Lane Park, Inc.
Kansas Supreme Court
808 P.2d 1369 (1991)
Gary Nelson and Douglas Sutherland were associates at the law firm Chapman & Waters (Chapman). Sutherland was assigned to assist in a lawsuit Chapman filed on behalf of Lansing-Delaware Water District (Lansing-Delaware) (plaintiff) against Oak Lane Park, Inc. (Oak Lane) (defendant). Oak Lane was represented by Davis, Beall, McGuire & Thompson, Chartered (Davis-Beall). Six months after the Lansing-Delaware complaint was filed, Nelson left Chapman and joined Davis-Beall. Chapman asked Davis-Beall to withdraw from the Lansing-Delaware litigation and three other cases because Nelson’s employment by Davis-Beall created a real or potential conflict of interest. Davis-Beall declined to withdraw, identified additional cases involving both firms, and advised Chapman that Nelson would avoid involvement in those cases and the Chinese wall would protect all parties’ interests. Lansing-Delaware moved to disqualify Davis-Beall, arguing that Nelson had acquired material and confidential information about the case while at Chapman. At an evidentiary hearing on the motion, Nelson testified that he did not recall providing legal services for Lansing-Delaware while at Chapman and that his only contact with the case was a discussion with Sutherland about how water could flow and review of a map of the location of Oak Lane’s trailer park. Sutherland testified that he discussed the case with Nelson in detail at least five times. The court disqualified Davis-Beall from representing Oak Lane pursuant to Model Rule of Professional Conduct (MRPC) 1.10 as codified in the Kansas Court Rules. Davis-Beall appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Allegrucci, J.)
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