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V.P. GOTTSCHALL v. JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORPORATION. V.P. GOTTSCHALL (09/07/84)

filed: September 7, 1984.

V.P. GOTTSCHALL, APPELLANT,
v.
JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORPORATION. V.P. GOTTSCHALL, AND V.P. GOTTSCHALL, AS CUSTODIAN UNDER THE UNIFORM GIFTS TO MINORS ACT FOR NICHOLAS P. GOTTSCHALL AND TERESA GOTTSCHALL, MINORS, ALL IN THEIR OWN BEHALF, AND FOR ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED V. JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORPORATION, A CORPORATION, AND PAUL THAYER, RAYMOND A. HAY, THOMAS C. GRAHAM, G.E. SMITH AND D.T. KALIL. APPEAL OF V.P. GOTTSCHALL



No. 00267 PITTSBURGH, 1981, Appeal from an Order of January 30, 1981, in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD 80-32049. No. 00059 PITTSBURGH, 1981, Appeal from an Order of December 30, 1980, in the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County, No. GD 80-26963.

COUNSEL

V. Gottschall, Pittsburgh, in propria persona.

Donald C. Winson, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Cavanaugh, Popovich and Hester, JJ.

Author: Hester

[ 333 Pa. Super. Page 495]

Appellant, as both named party-plaintiff and counsel of record for the class of plaintiff shareholders, instituted a class action against his former employer, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation (hereinafter referred to as "J & L"), and

[ 333 Pa. Super. Page 496]

    five individuals who were officers of J & L and/or its parent. Appellant was an attorney for J & L from 1969 until his termination in 1979. From 1971 through 1979 he was an Assistant Secretary of J & L and from 1976 through 1979 he was an Assistant General Counsel of J & L. Appellant had responsibility for J & L's compliance with securities law.

Appellant, at the time this suit was initiated, October 29, 1980, was a preferred shareholder in J & L along with his two children. Appellant alleges in this class action, inter alia, appellees depressed the price of the preferred stock, failed to disseminate information and issued erroneous material information to the class.

As both plaintiff and counsel, appellant subsequently filed another lawsuit against J & L requesting the involuntary dissolution of J & L pursuant to § 2107 of the Pennsylvania Business Corporation Law. 15 P.S. § 1001 et seq.

In both suits appellees petitioned the lower court to disqualify appellant as plaintiff and counsel of record. Appellees assert appellant's lawsuits breach the attorney-client privilege and undermine the Pennsylvania Code of Professional Responsibility, Canons 4 and 9. Canon 4 prohibits an attorney from using client confidences in suits against a former client. Canon 9 prohibits the appearance of impropriety.

In support of its petitions to disqualify appellant, appellees submitted to the trial judge appellees' affidavits and documents from J & L's files to demonstrate that appellant's past representation of J & L was substantially related to the subject matter of the present actions. Subsequently, appellant filed in both suits petitions to disqualify counsel for J & L.

The trial judge scheduled a hearing to resolve the petitions to disqualify and stayed both actions pending resolutions of the petitions. Concomitantly, the trial judge issued protective orders in both suits to insure the ...


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