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Trials & Litigation

Suit Claims Lawyer Broke His Wrist in Deposition Fracas with Drinker Biddle Partner

Posted Jul 28, 2011 9:26 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A California lawyer claims in a lawsuit that his wrist was broken during a deposition fracas in Beverly Hills because of a “martial art move” by a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Lawyer William Bloch filed suit against Drinker Biddle and partner Henry Shields in Santa Monica superior court, reports Courthouse News Service. Shields has denied the allegations and says it was Bloch who was the aggressor, Above the Law reports.

According to the suit, Bloch ended the July 8 deposition of an NBC official because of Shields’ improper objections. Words became heated, Shields refused to leave, and then Shields shut the door to the conference room. At that point, Shields “shot his right hand up to plaintiff's throat, in some kind of martial art move, and put a partial choke hold on plaintiff while shoving him against a nearby beam with his other arm,” the suit claims. The force allegedly caused a fracture of Bloch’s wrist.

Above the Law cites court documents that tell a different version of events. In an affidavit (PDF), Shields says Bloch had charged him. (The affidavit was filed in opposition to Bloch’s motion to continue the deposition without Drinker Biddle lawyers present.)

Shields said Bloch “became overly agitated” during the deposition and sought to end it “using crude, foul and profane language.” The deposition transcript has details. At one point during the deposition, Bloch told Shields, “You are a joke, sir,” and Shields replied, “OK. You can say that if you want to.” At another point, Bloch told Shields, “You don’t know a God-damned thing about the rules of evidence,” and Shields replied, “OK, then that’s fine.” Bloch also said “F--- this” and “The hell with that.”

After the deposition ended, Shields says, Bloch then screamed at him to “get the f--- out of my office.” As Shields moved toward the door, he says in his affidavit, “Mr. Bloch charged toward me from the other side of the conference room and started to physically push me out of the door. I put up my hands as [the NBC defendant] intervened to separate Mr. Bloch from me.” Inexplicably, Bloch then began to yell, “You put your hands on my neck you mother------,” Shields says.

Shields says he is undergoing chemotherapy and “I never had the inclination, or the physical strength, to attack Mr. Bloch.”

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