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While a jury found that Debra Pole’s defection to Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison a decade ago involved some misconduct by Pole and Brobeck, they awarded her former partners a mere $153,688 in damages. In its verdict Monday, a Los Angeles County jury said Brobeck must pay the now-defunct Santa Monica firm Dickson, Carlson & Campillo $80,888, while Pole must fork over $72,800. The jury found there was no malice, oppression or fraud committed by the defendants and thus no punitive damages are to be awarded. “I certainly hoped Debra would be found not liable on all counts,” said Pole’s attorney, David Schrader, a Los Angeles solo practitioner. “But given that they were asking for $33 million in damages, I can’t imagine the plaintiffs are claiming victory.” “Apparently we’ve established the principle that this is breach of fiduciary duty and interference with DCC’s business, but we were not into it to establish a principle,” said Dickson, Carlson’s attorney Brian Lysaght. “We felt damages should be substantial.” The Dickson, Carlson partners claimed that Pole shared proprietary information with Brobeck that enabled the firm to snare its top client, Baxter Healthcare Corp. The jury voted 9-to-3 that Pole breached her fiduciary duty to her former partners — but they concluded that she did not breach either the partnership agreement or the applied covenant of good faith. Lysaght, of Santa Monica’s O’Neill, Lysaght & Sun, attributed the verdict to Pole’s sympathetic appearance to the jury. “It was very easy for Debra Pole to portray herself as a victim, and she successfully did that,” he said. “I think if the case was just against Brobeck, it would have been different.” Brobeck’s attorney, Elliott Jubelirer, of San Francisco’s Morgenstein & Jubelirer, could not be reached for comment. Dickson, Carlson claimed Brobeck interfered with the firm’s economic advantage and with its partnership agreement. The jury ruled against Brobeck only on one of the two interference claims. The eight-year battle has cost the parties millions of dollars. Lysaght said his clients still have a shot at winning additional damages. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Cesar Sarmiento is to rule on a separate unfair competition claim. Lysaght said his clients are asking for restitution of the assets they lost to Brobeck, which he said are in the $10 million to $12 million range.

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