Posted October 25th, 2012 in Top Stories
Covington & Burling Disqualified from Representing State of Minnesota Against 3M
In a matter involving Nilan Johnson Lewis, Covington & Burling LLP has been disqualified from representing the State of Minnesota in an environmental lawsuit against 3M Company (3M). As reported by Thomson Reuters, “A state judge in Minneapolis ruled Thursday [October 11, 2012] that Covington & Burling cannot represent the state of Minnesota in an environmental lawsuit against the law firm’s onetime client 3M Co. Hennepin County District Court Judge Robert Blaeser disqualified Covington from the case due to the firm’s prior work for 3M on regulatory matters involving fluorochemical products. The Minnesota lawsuit had likewise involved fluorochemicals, creating a conflict, the judge said.”
Shareholder and firm namesake Michael Nilan argued the motion to disqualify Covington & Burling before the court. Nilan worked with the law firm Bickel & Brewer, which represents 3M as lead counsel and was responsible for the briefing. 3M moved to disqualify Covington on May 14, 2012.
According to Thomson Reuters, the court said the record showed that Covington was “specifically consulted on a number of confidential and privileged matters regarding 3M’s (fluorochemical) strategy.” According to the ruling and as published by the news agency, “Covington has ‘switched sides’ by representing a client who is now suing its former client,” Blaeser said. “By representing (Minnesota), Covington will benefit by contradicting the very positions it had long advocated on 3M’s behalf.”