NEW HORIZON KIDS QUEST III, INC., A MINNESOTA CORPORATION, Petitioner,
THE EIGHTH JUDICIAL DISTRICT COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA, IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF CLARK; AND THE HONORABLE SUSAN SCANN, DISTRICT JUDGE, Respondents, and ISABELLA GODOY, A MINOR BY AND THROUGH HER MOTHER, VERONICA JAIME, Real Parties in Interest.
petition for a writ of mandamus challenging a district court
order denying a motion to disqualify counsel.
Cannon, Gormley, Angulo & Stoberski and Felicia Galati
and James R. Olson, Las Vegas, for Petitioner.
Kravitz, Schnitzer & Johnson, Chtd., and Martin J.
Kravitz, Jordan P. Schnitzer, and Wade J. Van Sickle, Las
Vegas, for Real Parties in Interest.
CHERRY, C.J., DOUGLAS and GIBBONS, JJ.
original petition for a writ of mandamus, we are asked to
consider whether an attorney and his current firm should be
disqualified from representing real parties in interest in a
case against petitioner when the attorney's prior firm
defended petitioner in a previous and separate case.
conclude that the Nevada Rules of Professional Conduct
operate to disqualify a lawyer only when that lawyer, while
employed at his former firm, gained actual knowledge of
information protected by rules of confidentiality. In
particular, if a lawyer acquired no confidential information
about a particular client while at his former law firm and
that lawyer later joins another firm, neither the lawyer nor
his current firm are disqualified from representing a
different client in the same or related matter even though
the interests of the former and current clients conflict. We
therefore deny the petition.
2007, the law firm Hall Jaffee & Clayton (HJC) defended
petitioner New Horizon Kids Quest III, Inc., in a tort
action, namely Robann C. Blue, a Minor, by and through
her Guardian ad Litem, Sandi Williamson v. New Horizon Kids
Quest III, Inc. (Blue). Only two attorneys at HJC
participated in HJC's representation of petitioner in
Blue. Ultimately, the district court dismissed
Blue with prejudice through stipulation and order.
about the last half of HJC's representation in
Blue, Jordan P. Schnitzer worked as an associate
attorney at the firm. However, Schnitzer never represented
petitioner in Blue or obtained confidential
information regarding petitioner while employed at HJC. In
2011, Schnitzer left HJC to join the law firm Kravitz,
Schnitzer & Johnson, Chtd. (KSJ).
2014, Martin J. Kravitz from KSJ filed a tort action on
behalf of real parties in interest Isabella Godoy, a minor,
by and through her mother Veronica Jaime, against petitioner.
After accepting this case, Kravitz discovered that HJC
defended petitioner in Blue. He knew that Schnitzer
previously worked at HJC and further inquired into Schnitzels
involvement in Blue. Schnitzer told Kravitz that he
"had absolutely no knowledge about the Blue
case" and confirmed that he had not gained any
confidential information concerning petitioner while at HJC.
Thus, Kravitz determined screening was not required and
permitted Schnitzer to assist on this case.
2015, petitioner also discovered that Schnitzer worked at HJC
during part of its representation in Blue.
Petitioner then filed a motion to disqualify real parties in
interest's attorneys, Kravitz and Schnitzer. Based on
Schnitzer's affidavit denying obtainment of any
confidential information concerning petitioner, and an
affidavit from an attorney at HJC who participated in
Blue confirming that Schnizter had not worked on
that case, the district court concluded that Schnitzer never
obtained confidential information from Blue. The
court further concluded that the cases cited by petitioner in
support of its position were distinguishable. Ultimately, the
district court denied the motion. ...