Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has long profited from being in the heart of Silicon Valley’s business community — and representing a large percentage of the Valley’s most successful companies. Now, plaintiff lawyers are trying to use that seeming omnipresence to kick Wilson out of a high-profile piece of litigation over the still-metastasizing stock option backdating scandal.
In a derivative case against several former Mercury Interactive officers in Santa Clara County Superior Court, lawyers with Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins late last month filed a motion to disqualify Wilson partner Jared Kopel from the case. Kopel represents former Mercury COO Kenneth Klein. The purported conflict, the Lerach firm wrote in a court filing (.pdf), is based on the fact that Wilson also represents Hewlett-Packard, which is close to acquiring Mercury.
Since Mercury has joined in the litigation against Klein and other former officers — and HP will have to decide whether to continue pressing those claims — the Lerach firm says Wilson is in a position to be representing litigants on both sides of the case, and that Kopel’s request to stay the case until the HP merger is complete is a strategy growing out of that conflict. “In light of Klein’s continuous efforts to stall this litigation, it begs the question as to whether Klein, and Wilson Sonsini on behalf of Klein, engaged in these tactics precisely because both knew that the HP/Mercury merger was on the horizon, thus possibly providing Klein with a way out of this litigation without any adjudication of his fault,” Lerach wrote in his brief.
— Justin Scheck