Bradley attorney Todd Presnell was quoted in the Law360 on one of the biggest legal ethics decisions so far in 2017. Among other significant decisions in 2017 is a California jury’s $8 million verdict for a general counsel-turned-whistleblower. After a lengthy federal trial, the jury came back with a whopping $8 million verdict in favor of former Bio-Rad general counsel Sanford Wadler that included nearly $3 million in back wages and $5 million in punitive damages. The verdict came with a finding that Wadler’s reporting of concerns about potential Foreign Corrupt Practices Act breaches was a motivator for Bio-Rad’s decision in 2013 to fire him, after he had been the company’s general counsel for 26 years.
Presnell, who writes frequently about privilege issues, said the judge looked to a privilege exception in the American Bar Association’s model rules for attorney-client fee disputes to make that call, sidestepping California's stricter regulation.
“Essentially what the court said was, ‘We’re not going to make a blanket exception but we are going to recognize that, within limits, an in-house counsel should be able to use privileged information to prove a retaliation claim,’” he said. “This decision will help in-house lawyers bring those suits when before they might have thought, ‘I can't prove my claim ... because the company would never waive the privilege.’”
The complete article, “The Biggest Legal Ethics Decisions of 2017: Midyear Report,” appeared in Law360 on June 20, 2017. (login required)