West Virginia Record

Friday, January 24, 2020

DuPont sues Kathy Brown Law, Brown Houston over conflict of interest allegations


By Kyla Asbury | Jul 25, 2018


CHARLESTON – DuPont has filed a lawsuit against law firm Brown Houston regarding information disclosed to one of its former attorneys who now works for the firm.

Brown Houston, Kathy Brown Law and Kathy A. Brown were all named in the lawsuit filed by E.I. Du Pont de Nemours & Co. on June 19 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia.

Brown is the sole attorney for Kathy Brown Law, but also one of two attorneys for the firm Brown Houston, along with Timothy D. Houston.

Kathy Brown

Houston had previously represented DuPont from 2008 until 2014 with Spilman Thomas & Battle and spent 4,760 hours of attorney time to DuPont matters, including defending claims against DuPont related to its Washington Works facility and alleged exposure to perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA) and PFOA-related compounds, according to the suit.

"Because Brown and Houston are associated in a firm...Houston's conflicts of interest are imputed to Brown," the complaint states. "These conflicts of interest are personal to Brown and do not depend on whether she practices law under the auspices of Kathy Brown Law or Brown Houston."

DuPont claims that Brown is prohibited from representing plaintiffs in claims against DuPont regarding the Washington Works facility and PFOA exposure.

Brown is currently representing plaintiffs in cases against DuPont, which DuPont believes is a conflict of interest because of her connection with Houston.

"Brown's representation of plaintiffs in the PFOA matters is an impermissible conflict of interest in violation of West Virginia law," the complaint states. "Moreover, West Virginia law presumes that Houston disclosed to Brown the confidential information he obtained during his prior representation of DuPont.

DuPont is seeking an order enjoining the defendants from representing claims against DuPont regarding PFOA and the Washington Works facility and an order enjoining them from disclosing or using privileged information. DuPont is represented by Niall A. Paul of Spilman Thomas & Battle.

"Our counsel is evaluating the allegations in the complaint and will respond as appropriate," Kathy Brown said in an interview with The West Virginia Record.

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia case number 2:18-cv-01055

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