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Westinghouse Elec. Corp. v. Kerr-McGee Corp.
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
580 F.2d 1311 (7th Cir. 1978), cert. denied, 439 U.S. 955 (1978)
In 1975, Congress examined proposals to break up many of the nation’s largest oil companies to reduce each’s control over production, transportation, and refining of petroleum products. In opposition of such efforts, the American Petroleum Institute (API) retained the law firm of Kirkland and Ellis (Kirkland) to prepare arguments against any future congressional action. API sent a memo to its member companies stating that Kirkland was acting as independent special counsel to collect data and would hold information it received in strict confidence, not to be disclosed to any other company, or even to API. The final report prepared by Kirkland concluded that oil company diversification did not threaten overall energy competition. The same day the report was issued, Kirkland represented Westinghouse Electric Corporation (Westinghouse) (plaintiff) in filing an antitrust suit in federal district court against a number of petroleum companies that were members of API, including Kerr-McGee Corporation, Getty Oil Company, Gulf Oil Corporation, and others (defendants). Defendants filed a motion to disqualify Kirkland from further representation of Westinghouse. The district court denied defendants’ motion. Defendants appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sprecher, J.)
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