Continuing its legal wrangling with ""American International Group, Inc."":www.aig.com/, ""Bank of America Corp."":https://www.bankofamerica.com/ has filed a motion to dismiss ""Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP"":www.quinnemanuel.com/ as the company's counsel for AIG's $10 billion lawsuit against the financial institution. In its move to disqualify the firm, BAC cited conflict of interest due to partner Marc Becker's previous involvement with the bank's chosen law firm, ""Munger, Tolles & Olson"":www.mto.com/.[IMAGE]
BAC noted Becker's prior tenure at Munger, Tolles & Olson that exposed him to confidential information about Merrill Lynch's activities related to mortgage-backed securities claims. Becker, who reviewed drafts of AIG's complaint, has knowledge of plans to defend against MBS claims from within ""Merrill Lynch"":www.ml.com/ and ""First Franklin Financial Corporation"":www.1ffc.com/, the company's mortgage origination division, according to a statement from BAC.
Requesting that Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan be immediately removed from the case, BAC emphasized the law firms ""flouting of the ethical rules"" surrounding such suits. The motion from BAC went on to say, ""Quinn undertook this representation without even requesting a conflict waiver and screened Becker from involvement in this case only after defendants raised the issue. By then it was too late - Quinn had represented AIG in preparing this lawsuit for months, and Becker had already been involved in drafting the complaint and a significant motion in the case.""
Reuters reports that the filings from BAC's law firm contain a wealth of information about the relationship between BAC and AIG in the period prior to the filing of the $10 billion lawsuit in July, and those familiar with the case think it's likely that[COLUMN_BREAK]
Munger, Tolles & Olson will also attempt to remove Quinn Emanual Urquhart & Sullivan from all other MBS-related allegations associated with Merrill Lynch, First Franklin, the ""Federal Housing Finance Agency"":www.fhfa.gov/, ""Allstate"":www.allstate.com/, and ""Massachusetts Mutual"":www.massmutual.com/.
Gregory Joseph, counsel to Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, weighed in on BAC's disqualification measure, saying, ""Marc Becker practiced at Munger Tolles for 19 years as a highly respected and trusted associate and partner. They know perfectly well that he would not share any confidential information and he never did,"" Joseph said in an email. ""Bank of America doesn't want to face Quinn Emanuel on the other side. Its motion never even addresses the governing standard - whether there is any risk of trial taint - because of course there isn't.""
Countering Joseph's assertions, Marc Dworsky, a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, said, ""Through his communications with Merrill Lynch and First Franklin representatives, Becker had access to highly confidential information and analysis regarding First Franklin's home loan origination business. Even more significantly, Becker was provided First Franklin's internal projections of its exposure in connection with mortgage originations - the sensitivity and confidentiality of which is self evident.""
Though BAC claims it became aware of the potential conflict in interest during September, a letter from Joseph to Munger, Tolles & Olson dated September 26 accuses the bank of activities to remove Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan as early as January. The document goes on to assert hat BAC also has conflict issue, due to the fact that the financial institution's associate general counsel, Christopher Garvey, worked on AIG problems while he was a partner at ""Goodwin Procter LLP"":www.goodwinprocter.com/.
Demonstratively stating his opinion, Joseph wrote, ""Goodwin represented AIG in mortgage lending matters. If BofA pursues its reckless charge against Quinn Emanuel, AIG will be forced to address Mr. Garvey's conflicts, and this will not be limited to Mr. Garvey but extend to all whom Mr. Garvey has tainted.""
Joseph maintains that Becker has never disclosed any confidential material related to his work on Merrill Lynch or Franklin Financial. However, his defense of AIG's legal counsel did not mitigate BAC's action to file for disqualification on Monday as the firm had hoped.