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Snider v. Superior Court

113 Cal. App. 4th 1187 (2003)

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Snider v. Superior Court

California Court of Appeal

113 Cal. App. 4th 1187 (2003)

Facts

Event-planning company Quantum Productions, Inc. (Quantum) (plaintiff) sued its former sales manager, David Snider, after he left and started a competing business (collectively, defendants). Attorney Dale Larabee represented Snider, who identified Quantum sales manager Toni Lewis and productions director Laura Janikas as percipient witnesses. Quantum’s attorneys did not tell Larabee that Lewis and Janikas were represented by counsel in the matter. Before any contact, Larabee asked Snider what responsibilities and duties Lewis and Janikas had. Snider said they were salespeople with no corporate responsibility. Larabee concluded they were not within Quantum’s management control group and could not bind or make admissions on Quantum’s behalf. Larabee called Lewis and Janikas and said he was Snider’s attorney and wanted to talk to them about the case. Larabee asked if an attorney for Quantum had talked to them about their trial testimony, and they said he had not. Larabee did not plan to call Lewis or Janikas as witnesses and only wanted to ask them what they knew, particularly about a meeting without an attorney present with Quantum’s president, Pam Navarre, and employees. Larabee questioned Janikas extensively for about 10 minutes. Lewis exchanged messages but never actually spoke with Larabee and skipped an appointment. When Quantum’s counsel discovered the contacts, he moved to disqualify Larabee. Navarre submitted a declaration stating that she and Quantum’s vice president were its only executive-level employees. The trial court disqualified Larabee, and Snider appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Nares, J.)

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