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LEASE v. RUBACKY

December 29, 1997

RAMONA LEASE, LAURENCE J. ADAMS, ESQUIRE, and ADAMS AND ZELLNER, Plaintiffs,
v.
GERALD RUBACKY, M.D., Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 JOYNER, J.

 DECEMBER 29, 1997

 Presently before this Court is Defendant, Gerald Rubacky, M.D.'s, ("Defendant" or "Rubacky"), Motion to Disqualify Laurence J. Adams ("Adams") and Adams and Zellner *fn1" from representing plaintiff Ramona Lease ("Lease"). For the following reasons, the Motion will be granted.

 BACKGROUND

 The underlying case involves an alleged breach of an oral contract by defendant, Dr. Gerald Rubacky. Rubacky allegedly agreed to testify as an expert witness for plaintiff, Lease's, medical malpractice action against a Dr. Argires ("Argires"). In the medical malpractice action, Lease alleged that Argires negligently performed unnecessary emergency surgery that left her with an unstable spine, which requires further surgery, and a cracking sensation that goes into one leg.

 Plaintiffs, Laurence Adams and his law firm, Adams and Zellner, represented Lease in the underlying medical malpractice action. Adams allegedly made an oral contract to retain defendant, Rubacky, to testify as an expert witness in that proceeding. Plaintiffs allege that Rubacky's breach of this oral contract forced plaintiff, Lease, to withdraw her claims against Argires. Therefore, plaintiff, Lease, is seeking compensation from Rubacky for the loss of recovery she may have received from Argires. Plaintiffs, Adams and Adams and Zellner, are pursuing this action against Rubacky to recover the costs of and lost earnings they would have recovered from the underlying suit of Lease v. Argires.

 DISCUSSION

 I. Disqualification

 The court has the power to supervise the professional conduct of the attorneys that appear before it, including the power to disqualify counsel. Kaiser v. Stewart, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4966, 1997 WL 186392 (E.D. Pa.). However, given that disqualification operates to "deprive the opposing parties their counsel of choice," it is not favored. Capriotty v. Bell, 1991 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1930 at *5, 1991 WL 22134, *2 (E.D. Pa); See also Kaiser, 1997 WL 186392 at *2. In order to show that disqualification is proper, the "party seeking disqualification must 'clearly show[] that continued representation would be impermissible.'" Kaiser, 1997 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4966 at *7, 1997 WL 186329 at *2 (alteration in original)(quoting Cohen v. Oasin, 844 F. Supp. 1065, 1067 (E.D. Pa. 1994)).

 II. The Conflict of Interest Rule

 The local rules of this Court incorporate the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. See E.D. Pa. R. 83.6 (IV)(B). Rule 1.7 of the Model Rules provides that an attorney may not represent two clients when representation of one would be "directly adverse" to or would "materially limit" representation of the other, unless the attorney "reasonably believes" that representation of the other would not be "adversely affected" and both clients consent to the representation. If the conflict is "so severe that no lawyer could 'reasonably believe' that representation of one will not adversely affect the representation of the other, representation of both cannot be allowed." Capriotty, 1991 WL 22134 at *2 (citing Figueroa-Olmo v. Westinghouse Electric, 616 F. Supp. 1445, 1451 (D.P.R. 1985)). The rules allow representation if the lawyer has a reasonable belief that "he can fully serve two clients, despite a difference in interest between them." Id. at *3. However, this requires full consent of both parties. *fn2" Id. There are some conflicts that "may be so egregious that a client cannot agree to waive them." Kaiser v. Stewart, 1997 WL 186329, *3 (E.D. Pa.)(stating this may especially be true in the criminal context but can also exist in the civil context).

 III. Conflicts of Interest in the Instant Case

 Presently, Laurence Adams represents Lease, himself, and his law firm in this breach of contract action against Dr. Gerald Rubacky. Defendant moves to disqualify Adams from joint representation under the conflict of interest rule. Defendant claims that the interests of Adams and Adams and Zellner are directly adverse to the interests of Ramona Lease given that Adams and Adams and Zellner stand directly liable to Lease for the failure of her underlying claim against Argires; the same claims from which Lease now seeks compensation from Rubacky. Defendant will assert at trial that Adams and Adams and Zellner alone ...


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