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A judge in Los Angeles on Monday sanctioned plaintiffs’ lawyer Steve Condie for violating a protective order that prohibits lawyers from making public the names of witnesses who testified in a case brought by Nicaraguans who worked on Dole Food Co.’s banana plantations. Justice Victoria Chaney of the California 2d District Court of Appeal, who is hearing the matter in Los Angeles County, Calif., Superior Court, told the Oakland, Calif., solo practitioner to pay the court $4,500 for disclosing the name of a Dole witness to the State Bar of California; news reporters; plaintiffs’ attorney Mark Sparks; and a public relations executive. She said that she would report Condie to the state bar under rules involving sanctions of more than $1,000. “None of this information was public before Mr. Condie made it so,” she said. “The court finds that Mr. Condie was personally informed by this court of the protective order.” The dispute began after Chaney on July 15 threw out a $2.3 million verdict reached in 2007 in the case, which was brought by workers alleging they were left sterile due to a pesticide Dole used on its banana farms during the 1970s and 1980s called dibromochloropropane, or DBCP. Chaney found that widespread fraud among the plaintiffs’ lawyers and their clients had prevented Dole from deposing witnesses in the case, Tellez v. Dole. In 2009, Chaney, then a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court, issued terminating sanctions against the plaintiffs’ lawyers in that case, Juan Dominguez of Los Angeles and Nicaraguan attorney Antonio Hernandez Ordeñana, in a related but separate lawsuit, Mejia v. Dole. Chaney referred Dominguez to the state bar. Chaney was elevated to the appellate bench in 2009 but continues to sit in the Nicaraguan banana workers litigation. Condie filed a complaint in October 2010 with the state bar against three of Dole’s lawyers, arguing that a newly translated recording indicated that the company paid bribes to witnesses in the form of thousands of dollars in cash and luxury hotel accommodations. The witnesses later testified in secret to Chaney about the alleged fraud. Condie specifically filed the complaint against Scott Edelman, a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in Los Angeles; Michael Carter, general counsel of Dole; and Rudy Perrino, who was Dole’s director of litigation until April 2010. Another Dole lawyer, Theodore Boutrous of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, responded with a $5,000 sanctions motion alleging that Condie had violated the protective order by revealing the names of the witness in attachments to the bar complaint. In court on Monday, Boutrous said Condie was “well aware” of the protective order’s terms. “This is not something personal to him, even though we’re asking for sanctions against him,” said Boutrous, who appeared in court with Edelman. “This goes to the integrity of the court’s processes.” He told Chaney that Condie was “mocking” the court through his “brazen” violation of the protective order. In particular, Condie met with officials from the state bar along with Sparks and Crystal Rockwood, a public relations executive. Condie knew the attachment identified the witness and did nothing, and he contacted the press with the information, specifically The National Law Journal, which published a story about the filing of the complaint, Boutrous said. For that article, published on Nov. 22, 2010, Condie said everything he put in the complaint was a matter of public record and that Sparks, who was not subject to Chaney’s protective order, included the names of the witness in the attachment. “This has put me in an awkward situation,” Condie said. “I don’t know that I was supposed to stop him” from identifying the witness in the bar complaint. Sparks, who has several banana cases pending against Dole, initially was implicated by Chaney in her fraud finding as having participated in a secret meeting in 2003 with Dominguez and Ordeñana. But in July, Chaney said she believed she “could no longer say Mark Sparks actively participated in the fraud.” Chaney closed most of the hearing to the public and asked Rockwood and Sparks, who flew in from Texas, to leave the courtroom. She permitted the press to remain in the courtroom as long as the names of witnesses were not published. In court, Chaney reiterated that she issued the protective order so that witnesses, who feared for their safety, could come forward to testify as part of her fraud proceedings in Mejia. She said she found Condie’s arguments “unpersuasive.” Chaney denied a separate motion Condie filed asking for more evidence relating to her fraud investigation in the Mejia case. Following the hearing, Condie, an appellate specialist, said he wouldn’t comment about whether he planned to appeal Chaney’s sanction. He did say that he intended to appeal her dismissal of the Tellez verdict after she issues a statement of decision in a few weeks. Boutrous praised Chaney’s ruling. “It’s very important to the integrity of the court’s processes that an order like this is followed,” Boutrous said following the hearing. “We felt it was very important to ask the court to impose sanctions.” Contact Amanda Bronstad at [email protected].

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