Updated 4:55 p.m.
A former Dickstein Shapiro partner has been barred from representing plaintiffs in a breach of contract lawsuit (PDF) against AT&T, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia disqualified (PDF) Albert Kramer from representing hundreds of independent payphone service providers that accused AT&T of failing to fully compensate them for calls using access codes or toll-free numbers.
Kramer represented the American Public Communications Council and several other companies that sued AT&T in 1999. One year earlier, as the former head of Dickstein Shapiro’s communications practice, Kramer helped the APCC prepare its case.
In December 1998, according to AT&T’s motion to disqualify (PDF), Dickstein Shapiro entered into a letter agreement that neither Kramer nor any other firm attorney would participate in the litigation.
Kramer argued that the letter was superseded by agreements between AT&T and Dickstein Shapiro that waived ethical conflicts of interest when the firm agreed to represent the telecommunications giant in additional matters.
"Obviously I’m very disappointed and disagree with what they’ve done, but I will abide by the court ruling," Kramer said.
Judge Huvelle ultimately sided with AT&T and wrote in her ruling that the 1998 letter “constitutes an enforceable contract” and furthermore that “Kramer’s leaving the firm shortly after entering his appearance in this case on behalf of plaintiffs does not allow him to escape the terms.”
“There can be no doubt that Kramer as well as ‘other attorneys of the firm’ are barred from participating in this case,” Huvelle wrote, “and only Kramer is covered by this prohibition even if he is no longer at the firm.”
Past coverage: Attorney Accused of Breaching 12-Year-Old Contract by Entering AT&T Litigation