The Daily Business Review published an interesting article today about a local cruise line’s efforts to disqualify our firm and our co-counsel, Jonathan Aronson. The article is entitled "Cruise Line Case Highlights Ethics of Switching Sides."
The dispute arises out of the fact that Aronson used to be one of the cruise line’s defense lawyers, until it stopped sending him cases on a regular basis over the course of the last several years. After Royal Caribbean assigned him only one case in 2009, Aronson informed the cruise line that he could not support his family and would no longer represent the cruise line. Now a year later, Aronson has appeared as co-counsel with us in a number of cases against Royal Caribbean. The cruise line’s response was to hire two law firms – Holland & Knight and Mase, Lara & Eversole, with instructions to disqualify Aronson and this firm at all costs.
The Business Review’s article contains some interesting quotes, one from Aronson and another from defense attorney Mase who is now tasked with taking Aronson down.
Aronson: “I think they’re being vindictive. They’re just going after me for blood. They’re trying to grind me down, no question . . . I have a wife and two children in graduate school, and I have to make a living,”
Mase: "This is not remotely personal. We’ve all been friends for a long time, and we’ll still be friends when this is over."
The disconnect between these two thoughts reminds me of one of my favorite scenes from The Godfather. The Corleone family lawyer, Tom Hagen, tries to calm Sonny down after Sollozzo tried to kill his father. But Sonny would not listen to the lawyer’s advice:
Sonny: No, no, no, not this time, Consigliere. No more meetin’s, no more discussions, no more Sollozzo tricks. You give them a message. I want Sollozzo. If not, its all out war. We go to the mattresses.
Tom Hagen: Some of the other families won’t sit still for an all out war.
Sonny: Then you tell them to hand over Sollozzo!
Tom Hagen: Your father wouldn’t want to hear this, Sonny. This is business not personal.
Sonny: They shoot my father and it’s business, my ass!
Tom Hagen: Even shooting your father was business not personal, Sonny!
Sonny: Well then, business is going to have to suffer. And please, do me a favor, Tom. No more advice on how to patch things up. Just help me win, please?
Mase and Aronson are probably both right.
Its strictly business, and business as usual, for this $15 billion dollar corporation to try and knock out an attorney who switches sides. But being abandoned by a former client who then tries to put you out of business when you are supporting your wife and two children is about as personal as it gets.
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