Oracle Loses Challenge to Opposing Counsel

     (CN) – An attorney who once served as in-house counsel for Oracle America can represent the company’s adversary in a $19 million contract dispute, a federal judge ruled.
     Innovative Technology Distributors (ITD) distributed Oracle products beginning in 2005, and continued to do business with the company when it acquired Sun Microsystems at the beginning of 2010.
     “[D]uring the second half of 2010 and due to reasons that are a matter of dispute, the parties’ relationship soured,” U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh explained
     ITD sued Oracle in California’s Northern District last March, claiming the company owed it $19 million.
     Oracle then moved to disqualify ITD attorney Vicky Dal Molin, saying she would be in breach of her ethical duties since she served as Oracle’s in-house lawyer after working for Sun.
     Dal Molin allegedly represented Oracle on issues related to the current action, “including the very contracts, transactions and issues identified in ITD’s complaint,” the motion states.
     But Dal Molin, who is not actually participating in this action, is not Oracle’s real target, Koh noted.
     “The real target of Oracle’s motion to disqualify counsel appears to be ITD’s outside counsel, Lowenstein [Sandler PC],” Koh explained.
     Disqualifying Dal Molin would be “superfluous and unnecessary,” Koh wrote, adding that Oracle tried to disqualify her because of her association with the Lowenstein firm.
     But there is no evidence suggesting that Dal Molin was involved with Lowenstein during this litigation, the judge found.
     “Oracle’s initial speculation that Dal Molin provided the allegedly confidential information relied upon in the ITD Complaint turned out to be completely unfounded, as it appears that Oracle employees, not Dal Molin, provided the information to ITD employees long before this lawsuit,” Koh wrote.
     The judge denied Oracle’s motion to disqualify counsel and vacated the motion hearing.

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