Lawyer Says Opposing Counsel Broke His Arm
(CN) - An attorney claims opposing counsel at Drinker Biddle assaulted him and broke his arm during a deposition in Beverly Hills after the Drinker Biddle man "saw his client being taken apart and impeached in the deposition examination by plaintiff and became desperate."
William Bloch, with (nonparty) Excelus Law Group, sued Drinker Biddle & Reath and Henry Shields, in Santa Monica Superior Court.
Shields, a partner and managing agent with Drinker Biddle & Reath, represented defendants in a lawsuit filed by Bloch's firm, according to the complaint.
Bloch says Shields became violent during a full-day deposition of one of his clients, held at Bloch's office in Beverly Hills.
"At approximately 11:30 a.m., Shields saw his client being taken apart and impeached in the deposition examination by plaintiff and became desperate," according to the complaint. "Shields began obstructing the deposition, coaching his witness, making improper speaking objections, and then improperly instructing the witness not to answer questions pertaining to the testimony of other witnesses. Shields was repeatedly counseled that his tactics were improper, contrary to the Rules of Evidence, and were subverting plaintiff's efforts to conduct meaningful discovery, precedent to the mediation. In spite of these warnings, Shields refused to withdraw his improper instructions and refused to take a break and consult with co-counsel or otherwise re-think his conduct. As a result, Bloch terminated the deposition and advised he would be seeking judicial intervention, and that Shield's conduct had destroyed the viability of a meaningful mediation.
"Words became heated, and plaintiff told Shields to leave Excelus's office. Shields refused to leave even though the deposition was terminated because of Shields' instructions not to answer, and there was no further business to take place in the conference room. Near the exit out of the conference room, Shields then looked at and turned to the open conference door and deliberately shut the door, cutting off plaintiff's egress and thereby falsely imprisoning him inside the conference room and against his will."
Bloch, whose right arm had been seriously injured in 1993 and had been operated on 6 times, and faces possible amputation, says he tried to avoid a physical confrontation, but could not get to the hall to call the police.
He says: "Shields prevented plaintiff from going around him, and instead 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. Shields applied such force to plaintiff as to cause severe bruising to plaintiff's buttock, right shoulder, and an abrasion on the right elbow, which is a critical and vulnerable area for plaintiff. Additionally, Shields' robust unlawful force against plaintiff caused a fracture of plaintiff's dominant arm, the left, in the wrist area." Shields finally left with his clients and co-counsel, when he heard the police were on their way, Bloch says.
Bloch claims that when Drinker Biddle & Reath "learned of Shields' wrongdoing, they ratified it and assisted Shields in creating a false alibi and supported him in his brazen and wrongful conduct."
He claims that Shields' attack fractured his, Bloch's, left wrist, which had to be put in a brace, and required medication.
Bloch seeks compensatory and punitive damages for negligence, assault, battery and false imprisonment.
He is represented by Gregory Segal with Segal, Cohen & Landis of Beverly Hills.