Law Firm Dykema Says Ruling Leaves ‘Inaccurate Picture’ Of Firm

  • Dykema said work by original appellate team at different firm drew court’s questions and threat of sanctions
  • Seeks language added to ruling in negligence case

(Reuters) – Dykema Gossett has asked a California state court to make “crucial” changes to a ruling last week that the law firm said leaves a mistaken impression that it was facing sanctions for its work in the appellate litigation.

In a letter to the Los Angeles-based 2nd District Court of Appeal, Detroit-founded Dykema suggested the court should identify the small firm James & Associates as the firm whose earlier filings in the dispute drew concern from judges.

The appeals court’s April 8 decision revived a negligence case filed by Shahrokh Mireskandari, a client originally at James & Associates, a firm with two lawyers who jumped to Dykema last year. Mireskandari, who is now a Dykema client, is suing law firm Edwards Wildman Palmer, alleging a former lawyer there failed to advise him on a key state law before he sued a media outlet in California state court.

The court’s April 8 decision did not issue sanctions against any of his lawyers.

The James & Associates name does not appear in the ruling, and it goes into detail about Mireskandari’s appellate lawyers. Dykema, which has 380 lawyers, said there could be confusion over whether it was responsible for the filings the court criticized.

The court last year expressed dismay that certain court papers did not adhere to rules for indexing and citations, and the court raised the possibility that sanctions could be imposed.

“It would be remiss to leave practitioners and the general public with the incorrect understanding that a firm of Dykema’s experience and ability would somehow lack the resources to comply with the California Rules of Court,” Dykema’s James Azadian, co-leader of the firm’s appellate practice, wrote with partner Becky James in the letter to the court. “This misunderstanding unfortunately appears to be uniformly held by all reasonable readers — even sophisticated ones — based on how the current opinion is constructed.”

James, formerly at James & Associates, on Thursday declined to comment. She has represented Mireskandari with Lisa Burnett, who also formerly was at James & Associates. Burnett did not return a message seeking comment.

A lawyer for Edwards Wildman did not return a message seeking comment.

Dykema wants the court to amend its decision to add James & Associates as “original appellate counsel.”

Burnett last year told the appeals court that James & Associates was “dealing with continued major logistical burdens associated with the pandemic.” She said the firm “did not have the resources” to “unbundle” certain filings or “separately label” others.

The appeals court said “counsel’s contrition and the unprecedented hardship her office and staff faced due to the pandemic make sanctions inappropriate in this case.”

The case is Mireskandari v. Edwards Wildman, 2nd District Court of Appeal, No. B301785.

For plaintiff: Becky James and Lisa Burnett of Dykema.

For defendant: John Moscarino and Katherine Balatbat of Valle Makoff.