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Squire Sanders reportedly suspends vote on merger; motion seeks to block Patton Boggs Chevron deal

Posted May 22, 2014 11:19 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Updated: Squire Sanders has suspended a vote on a proposed merger with Patton Boggs, apparently because of a legal filing seeking to block Patton Boggs’ attempt to extricate itself from an environmental case, according to a published report.

Two anonymous Squire Sanders partners told the Am Law Daily (sub. req.) that the merger vote, scheduled to take place this week, has been suspended.

A motion filed Wednesday evening alleged that Patton Boggs withdrew from the environmental case and announced a settlement in a press release without first informing its clients, the Am Law Daily says. "No court should put its imprimatur on such a rotten deal," the motion says.

Patton Boggs was helping lead sole practitioner Steven Donziger of New York in his bid to collect a $9.5 billion Ecuadorian judgment he obtained against Chevron. After a federal judge ruled the verdict was “obtained by corrupt means,” Patton Boggs agreed earlier this month to withdraw from the case and pay $15 million to Chevron.

The motion (PDF) filed by Donziger says the “vulnerable people” seeking to hold Chevron accountable for air pollution in the Amazon rain forest had counted on Patton Boggs. A press release provides a summary.

“There is no way to sugarcoat it,” the motion says. "Patton Boggs has put its own interests above those of the people it was supposed to represent, switched sides in the middle of a hotly contested legal dispute, unceremoniously abandoned the clients without so much as notifying them, and publicly expressed regret at having taken on their representation in the first place."

Donziger filed the motion to intervene on behalf of himself and two plaintiffs.

Patton Boggs opposed Donziger's motion in a court filing on Thursday that said the law firm "has behaved ethically in all respects, including with respect to its decision to conclude its limited attorney-client relationship." Patton Boggs says the allegations relate to matters not before the court and are facially defective.

"Given that there is no relief that proposed intervenors could hope to achieve through this motion, it seems clear that the objective of the motion is simply to generate publicity and cast a cloud over Patton Boggs," the document says.

Updated on May 23 to add Patton Boggs court filing.

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