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Helie v. McDermott

NEW YORK SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT


November 25, 2008

MARC HÉLIE, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
MCDERMOTT, WILL & EMERY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS, GRAMERCY FINANCIAL GROUP LLC, NON-PARTY-APPELLANT.

Order, Supreme Court, New York County (Michael D. Stallman, J.), entered June 28, 2007, which, to the extent appealed from, permitted defendant Sullivan to testify at a deposition and ordered production of documents concerning certain topics even if his responses revealed information or communications that Gramercy Financial Group claimed were privileged and/or confidential, unanimously affirmed, without costs.

Published by New York State Law Reporting Bureau pursuant to Judiciary Law § 431.

This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision before publication in the Official Reports.

Mazzarelli, J.P., Friedman, Nardelli, Buckley, Freedman, JJ.

108485/05

Code of Professional Responsibility DR 4-101(C) (22 NYCRR 1200.19[c]) provides: "A lawyer may reveal: . . . (4) Confidences or secrets necessary . . . to defend the lawyer . . . against an accusation of wrongful conduct." We decline to make defendants' invocation of this rule dependent on plaintiff's demonstration of a prima facie case of defendants' liability (see Justice Stallman's later ruling on a related matter in this case, 18 Misc 3d 673, 683 [December 17, 2007]).

The issue of whether plaintiff was defendants' client is to be tried (see id. at 684), so Gramercy should not assume that plaintiff is a non-client. Even if plaintiff were not defendants' client, DR 4-101(C)(4) does not require the non-client's allegation of wrongful conduct to involve criminal or regulatory charges rather than malpractice (see Restatement [Third] of Law Governing Lawyers § 64, Comment c).

Gramercy's argument that the motion court should have deferred decision until after summary judgment (even though neither plaintiff nor defendants have moved for summary judgment) is without merit. It is not for Gramercy to dictate the litigation decisions of the parties.

THIS CONSTITUTES THE DECISION AND ORDER OF THE SUPREME COURT, APPELLATE DIVISION, FIRST DEPARTMENT.

20081125

© 1992-2008 VersusLaw Inc.



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