Why the NLJ Can’t Disclose Full Details of a Hogan Lovells Fee Dispute
Hogan Lovells has sued a former client alleging failure to pay $666,000 in legal bills, but full details can’t be disclosed because of a restraining order issued by a Washington, D.C., judge.
Hogan Lovells contends a company that makes pomegranate juice, POM Wonderful, owes the money for the law firm’s work on a matter during nine months last year, the National Law Journal reports. What kind of matter? The NLJ can’t say because of an order by Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff now under appeal.
The judge is barring the NLJ from disclosing what agency is conducting a regulatory inquiry of POM, and she has sealed six court documents that were previously part of the public record. POM pushed for the secrecy, while Hogan Lovells maintained the details will help it defeat POM Wonderful’s defense—that the law firm’s fees were “exorbitant” and it provided “unnecessary and substandard legal services.”
Hogan Lovells is represented by Washington solo practitioner Randell Ogg. In court documents, he wrote that POM Wonderful is seeking to embarrass the law firm and strip it of a “right to publicly defend itself against frivolous public charges.”
POM Wonderful is seeking to stay the suit and to have the matter resolved by California arbitrators. POM Wonderful claims most of the legal work took place in that state, where clients have the right to request arbitration of fee disputes. Bartnoff refused POM Wonderful’s motion to dismiss in a closed hearing July 9, the story says.