A Texas federal judge on Monday lamented ever having to write the phrase “butt shaking” as she declined to sanction a former BakerHostetler partner for allegedly inappropriate conduct during mediation in an employment discrimination case against Chevron Phillips Chemical Co.
“One of the sentences a judge does not imagine — much less welcome — writing includes the words ‘butt shaking’ in describing a lawyer’s alleged actions at a mediation,”
Judge Rosenthal wrote.
“Sadly, those words fit here.”
Duffy “has had to withdraw” from the case, she noted.
“Before he did so, he received national press coverage when the sanctions motion ‘went viral,'” the order reads.
“Duffy’s professional reputation, and the closely related ability to attract new business, will no doubt suffer, and they should.”
CP Chem is now represented by Norton Rose Fulbright.
Alfonso Kennard Jr. of Kennard Law PC, who represents plaintiff Alclair White in the case against CP Chem, sought sanctions in February, alleging Duffy shook his behind at Kennard and also coarsely remarked on Kennard’s ponytail, suggesting it might mean Kennard would want to have sex with Duffy.
Duffy, who now practices at Kane Russell Coleman & Logan PC, declined to comment Monday afternoon.
Judge Rosenthal reviewed sealed declarations submitted by Duffy, Kennard and mediator A. Martin Wickliff in reaching her decision and noted in the order issued Monday that the declarations “show significant disagreement about what occurred.”
“While Duffy’s behavior was clearly outside professional bounds, neither counsel was a role model of professional conduct,” she wrote.
Kennard told Law360 that he disputes Judge Rosenthal’s holding that neither attorney was a “role model of professional conduct.”
“I think the judge thought that we made this go viral, but we did not,” he said. “We didn’t issue any press releases or anything of the sort. I think Judge Rosenthal thought ‘shame on us’ for making this a national headline, but we didn’t.”
Kennard, who was seeking $10,000 in attorney fees as a sanction, according to court documents, said he was “OK” with Judge Rosenthal’s decision not to issue monetary sanctions.
“The judge essentially agreed that lawyers shouldn’t be behaving that way, and [Duffy is] going to ultimately suffer consequences,” he said.
White filed her lawsuit in January 2019, alleging she was fired from CP Chem because of her age, race and disability, among other things. White alleges she logged 40 years of employment with the company, eventually being promoted to materials coordinator, but was fired in 2016 in retaliation for her applications for family and medical leave as well as numerous complaints of discrimination she made to management.
In February, BakerHostetler issued a statement to Law360 that it was “unable to comment on anything discussed in a confidential mediation,” but that it “strenuously” denied the allegations.
When Norton Rose Fulbright took over representation of CP Chem in the matter, it urged the court to put the allegations of inappropriate behavior in the “rearview mirror,” noting that the legal team had been replaced and argued the requested sanction was “unnecessary.”
Messages seeking comment from BakerHostetler representatives and from counsel for CP Chem were not returned Monday.
CP Chem is represented by Shauna J. Clark and Kimberly F. Cheeseman of Norton Rose Fulbright.
White is represented by Alfonso Kennard Jr. of Kennard Law PC.
The case is Alclair White v. Chevron Phillips Chemical Co. LP, case number 4:19-cv-00187, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.
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Goodwin Procter LLP, now rebranded to Goodwin Law is a creditor rights law firm, defending Banks e.g. Bank of America and Non-Banks, e.g. Ocwen Financial et al. This Big Law firm continually violates professional ethical codes of conduct when litigating cases. This post highlights a few examples; The Goodwin Law Hall of Shame.