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Santacroce v. Neff

134 F. Supp. 2d 366 (2001)

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Santacroce v. Neff

United States District Court for the District of New Jersey

134 F. Supp. 2d 366 (2001)

Facts

The law firm of Jaffe & Asher (the firm) represented Arthur Goldberg for many years. Goldberg hired the firm to represent his girlfriend, Stefania Santacroce (plaintiff), in a dispute between her business, EuroJewels, Inc., and Damiani International (Damiani), a manufacturer that had backed out of a business deal. In this lawsuit, Santacroce claimed that EuroJewels was operating efficiently and that Damiani had no legitimate reason to be concerned about EuroJewels’ operations. While the lawsuit was pending, Goldberg passed away, leaving nothing for Santacroce in his will. Santacroce hired a different lawyer to sue Goldberg’s estate (defendant), claiming that Goldberg had promised her that if she abandoned her business to move to New Jersey to care for him, he would provide for her financially for the rest of her life to make up for the inevitable harm to her business. However, Santacroce held off filing the complaint against the estate while the parties discussed settlement. Goldberg’s estate asked the firm if it would replace the estate’s current lawyer and represent the estate in all litigation, including Santacroce’s claim. The firm terminated its representation of Santacroce, stating that Santacroce’s claim against the estate created a conflict of interest that required it to withdraw. Santacroce then filed her complaint against the estate. Santacroce would not waive any conflicts and moved to have the firm disqualified from representing the estate.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Lifland, J.)

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