United States District Court, S.D. New York
October 14, 2005.
GEORGE PIECZENIK, Plaintiff,
PFIZER, INC., Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RONALD ELLIS, Magistrate Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff George Pieczenik brings this pro se action for
alleged patent infringement against Pfizer, Inc. This case was
referred to the undersigned by the Honorable Lewis A. Kaplan on
September 7, 2004, for general pretrial matters, and dispositive
motions. On June 20, 2005, Pieczenik filed a motion to disqualify
Pfizer's counsel, White & Case. Pieczenik's motion is hereby
Motions to disqualify opposing counsel "are viewed with
disfavor in this Circuit because they are often interposed for
tactical reasons and result in unnecessary delay." Bennett
Silvershein Assocs v. Furman, 776 F. Supp. 800, 802 (S.D.N.Y.
1991) (citation omitted). Although doubts should be resolved in
favor of disqualification, "the party seeking disqualification
must carry a heavy burden . . . and must meet a high standard of
proof before a lawyer is disqualified." Id. An attorney or law
firm may be disqualified from representing a client if:
1) the moving party is a former client of the adverse
party's counsel; 2) there is a substantial relationship between the
subject matter of the counsel's prior representation
of the moving party and the issues in the present
(3) the attorney whose disqualification is sought had
access to, or was likely to have had access to,
relevant privileged information in the course of his
prior representation of the client
Evans v. Artek Systems Corp, 715 F.2d 788
, 791 (2d Cir. 1983)
Pieczenik's central argument for disqualification is that
Leslie Morioka, a partner at White & Case who is not counsel of
record in this case, was privy to information concerning pending
litigation over the patents-in-suit.*fn1 See Pieczenik's
Motion to Remove ("Pieczenik's Mot.") at 1. Pieczenik maintains
that Morioka is his acquaintance and that she was "instructed to
interrogate [him] about his cases, based on their previous
personal relationship." Id. Twenty years ago Pieczenik and
Morioka were employed "in neighboring laboratories at The
Rockefeller University in New York City." Morioka Affidavit
("Morioka Aff.") at 1. The record shows, however, that "from the
time [Morioka] left Rockefeller in the 1980's, until about early
2002, [Morioka] had little to no contact with [Pieczenik]." Id.
Early in 2002, Morioka "contacted [Pieczenik] out of curiosity as
to what scientific endeavors [he] was then currently undertaking
and thereby learned of [his] interest in the area of
combinatorial libraries." Id. at 2. Pieczenik maintains that
Morioka had "a hidden agenda" when she contacted him. Pieczenik
also asserts that "[he] sued Domantis . . . on [her] advise," and
she "specifically hid from [him] Pfizer's infringement."
Pieczenik's Mot. at 1; see also E-mail Communications between
Pieczenik and Morioka, attached to Pieczenik's Mot., as Exh. A.
The facts as set forth in the record, however, do not support this argument. The record does not show that a
previous attorney-client relationship existed between Pieczenik
and Morioka. See Morioka Aff. at 2. The exchange of email does
not support Pieczenik's argument, and is not sufficient for
disqualification. Pieczenik also failed to substantiate his
allegation that White & Case conducted "sloppy conflict checking
procedures." Pieczenik's Mem. at 1.
The additional arguments made by Pieczenik are without merit.
The assertion that Pfizer is a "secondary level client"
represented by an associate, and not a partner, does not support
disqualification. Id. at 6. Pieczenik's ad-hominem allegations
about White & Case's alleged anti-Semitic activities in Germany
during World War II are unsubstantiated, and do not support
disqualification. See Id. at 3-5.
The Court finds that disqualification of Pfizer's counsel,
White & Case, is not warranted. Pieczenik's motion is hereby
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