Persichette v. Owners Insurance Co.
2020 CO 33. No. 19SA188. Colo. RPC 1.9(a)—Former-Client Conflicts—"The Same" Matter—"A Substantially Related Matter."
May 4, 2020
In this original proceeding, the Supreme Court considered whether the district court erred in denying defendant’s motion to disqualify defendant’s longtime former counsel from representing plaintiff.
The Court concluded that defendant’s former counsel has a former-client conflict under Colo. RPC 1.9(a) that precludes counsel’s representation of plaintiff in this case. As relevant here, the Court ruled that this matter is “substantially related” to matters in which defendant’s former counsel previously represented defendant. More specifically, the Court determined that the district court misconstrued “a substantially related matter” to mean “the same” matter and then incorrectly found that the information defendant’s former counsel probably possesses as a result of its prior representation of defendant is neither confidential nor advantageous to plaintiff. Because the district court should have disqualified defendant’s former counsel from representing plaintiff in order to preserve the integrity and fairness of these proceedings, the Court made the rule to show cause absolute.